Local officers get ready for busy roads

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 3, 2003

Local law enforcement agencies have a simple message for everyone celebrating the Fourth of July holiday - slow down, buckle up and don't drink and drive.

"July 4th is traditionally one of the worst weekends as far as traffic is concerned," said Lt. Carl Roark, commander of the Ironton Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. "The Ironton Post will have all available personnel on the roadways."

From today through Sunday, no one at the post will be scheduled off with all 12 troopers and four sergeants working long shifts and overtime hours, Roark said.

Email newsletter signup

"We will be more visible and step up our enforcement during the holiday weekend," he said.

Last year, eight fatal crashes killed 11 people across the state during the holiday weekend, but none were in Lawrence County.

An unusual statistic was that only one crash was alcohol-related, Roark said.

"Overall, last year was a very successful weekend," Roark said. "Unfortunately, those people lost their lives. Normally, 30 percent of fatal accidents are alcohol-related. More than 50 percent of motorcycle fatalities are alcohol-related."

While he is not telling people not to celebrate, responsibility is the key.

"Impairment begins with the first drink," he said.

"Ohio's troopers will be aggressively enforcing DUI and safety belt laws."

All three states in the Tri-State will be actively enforcing these laws. The Ohio Patrol will continue its participation in two national campaigns - "You Drink & Drive. You Lose" and the "What's Holding You Back? Click It Or Ticket" program that cracks down on offenders.

Lawrence County Sheriff Tim Sexton said his department will have as much manpower out as possible and will prioritize calls based on the level of emergency.

The sheriff said he expects July 4 to be like other weekend with some alcohol-related incidents. The department will respond to fireworks complaints as quickly as possible, especially if anyone is injured, but hopefully people will be smart and it will lessen the need, he said.

"We want to encourage everyone to be sensible with their celebrations. Do not drink and drive, do not use illegal fireworks and for parents to supervise their children," he said. "If people use common sense and safety precautions, we can all have a safe and happy holiday."

In Chesapeake, Assistant Police Chief Tim Newman said a checkpoint will be set up at the foot of the Sixth Street Bridge. Officers will be conducting field sobriety tests at the check point from 11 p.m. Friday until 4 a.m. Saturday.

Newman said the check point is part of the department's "Safe and Sober" campaign.