Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Police & Fire

Extra patrols on roads for St. Patrick's weekend

A front-end loader lifted its blade, brought it down on a vacant car, flattening the roof, then backed up, paused for a second or two, and rolled up to the wreckage, hitting it over the top.

"Today we decided to show the public what can happen to their vehicles if they make a choice to drink and drive," Lucas County sheriff's Detective Mark Woodruff said as he stood near the ill-fated 1999 Dodge Stratus at a news conference Friday at Express Towing on Whtehouse Spencer Road in Monclova Township.

Detective Woodruff was one of about a dozen area law enforcement officials who gathered at the event to remind people in the county that, as they venture out this weekend for St. Patrick's Day festivities, there will be extra patrols on the road to catch drunk drivers.

Lt. William Bowers, of the Ohio Highway Patrol, who was also present at the event, said the Stratus was a forfeited vehicle that belonged to a 25-year-old Toledo man who had three drunken-driving convictions over the past five years for offenses committed in Lucas and Wood County, Lieutenant Bowers said. Typically, a person must forfeit a vehicle after the second drunken-driving conviction, he said.

Added the lieutenant: "Last I heard, he was in CCNO [Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio]." 

"St. Patrick's Day tends to be an amateur drinkers' night," Detective Woodruff noted. "So you've got not only the [usual] people who drink and drive. Now you've also got a whole pool of people who do that." 

To counter this, area law enforcement agencies were planning to have 250 extra man hours of traffic patrols Friday through Monday, Detective Woodruff said.

The overtime is federally funded, according to Lieutenant Bowers.

"We are doing this [demonstration] to bring notice of the OVI [Operating a Vehicle while under the Influence] problem in Lucas County and to kick off our enforcement effort for St. Patrick's," the lieutenant said.

Lieutenant Bowers said Lucas County in 2012 had 186 injury crashes resulting from impaired driving. They included 17 fatal crashes, in which 18 people were killed. With 36 people killed in 35 fatal crashes that year, impaired driving accounted for half of the fatalities, he said. 

In 2011, there were 10 fatal crashes caused by impaired driving, in which 12 people were killed, according to a fact sheet released at the event by the task force. With the total number of fatal crashes that year at 23 and the total number of fatalities at 29, impaired driving accounted for 41 percent of fatalities.

Detective Woodruff said the county OVI Task Force will run two sobriety checkpoints through Monday on McCord Road at Airport Highway -- one in the northbound lanes and the other in the southbound lanes. They started Friday.

In Wood County, Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn announced that the sheriff's office would also be conducting increased patrol over the weekend through Monday on overtime funded by a federal grant. The blitz started Friday.

Contact Mike Sigov at: sigov@theblade, 419-724-6089, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.






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