Law enforcement gears up for holiday

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2003

As many people celebrate the last holiday of the summer basking in the hot sun with cold alcoholic beverages, some of those drinkers choose to not celebrate responsibly.

Local law enforcement officials are getting ready for these people.

Last year, Labor Day weekend was the deadliest single holiday weekend on Ohio's roads and highways. Statistics from the Ohio State Highway Patrol show that 22 people died during the Labor Day holiday in 18 crashes. Eight of those deaths were alcohol-related.

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Lt. Carl Roark, commander of the Ironton post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, said the post troopers will not conduct sobriety checkpoints, but will do "saturation patrols." This means that all available officers will be working, primarily looking for intoxicated drivers and those violating safety belt laws.

Last year, Lawrence County had seven crashes the entire Friday-Monday period of the Labor Day weekend. None of those crashes were alcohol-related, and none were fatal, Roark said. During that period, only six people were arrested for DUI by the patrol, and this number of arrests is lower than previous years.

Roark said he believes that the decreased amount of crashes is the result of increased education and enforcement.

The Chesapeake Police Department will conduct a sobriety checkpoint at the Sixth Street Bridge from 11 p.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Sunday.

Assistant Chief Timothy Newman said the department has conducted sobriety checkpoints during the past two July 4 holidays, but this will be the first Labor Day checkpoint. In an average Labor Day weekend, the department in the dry village will usually arrest three to four people for DUI.

During this past July 4, the department caught three people driving under the influence, four driving under suspension, 10 not wearing seat belts, two with improper child restraints and a few others with expired plates and illegal tags, Newman said.

"We would urge drivers to be cautious at the checkpoint and drive safe for the holiday," he said.