Grant aimed at helping law enforcement remove impaired drivers from road

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 24, 2023

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Traffic Safety Office was recently awarded a $15,087 grant from the Governors Highway Safety Association and to strengthen law enforcement’s ability to detect and deter impaired drivers on Ohio’s roads.

Officers will be trained to use DAX Evidence Recorders, which use high-definition digital video technology to record the eye movements and other physical responses of suspected impaired drivers. OTSO will use the video recorded by these devices to develop and provide training videos to law enforcement agencies to expand and enhance their impaired driving detection initiatives.

These devices will eventually provide prosecutors with court-admissible audio and video evidence to help settle drug and alcohol impaired driving cases before they go to court, to keep officers in the field and roads safer.

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“Since 2018, the Ohio State Highway Patrol has made over 100,000 OVI arrests. Nearly one in four were suspected to involve marijuana or other drug impairment,” Emily Davidson, OTSO director, said. “This behavior must be addressed to save lives. By providing law enforcement with the tools, resources, and training to better recognize impairment, officers can identify and remove dangerous drivers from the road.”

“Summer should be for beach trips and family vacations. Tragically, summer also brings a rise in impaired driving crashes and deaths, leaving countless families shattered and communities devastated,” GHSA chief executive officer Jonathan Adkins said. “GHSA is excited to continue our long-running partnership with to give law enforcement the tools they need to help make our roads safer for everyone traveling this summer and beyond.”

This announcement comes as local law enforcement agencies across the state will participate in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over high-visibility enforcement effort through Labor Day weekend. From Aug. 16 — Sept. 4, Ohioans will see an increase in activity through the use of zero-tolerance enforcement, sobriety checkpoints, and saturation patrols.

Ohio law enforcement takes impaired driving seriously because the consequences can be deadly:

OVI-related deaths in Ohio have been steadily rising over the past five years, with 668 fatal crashes in 2022.

Franklin County has the highest number of fatal OVI-related crashes, with 327 since 2018.

OVI-related crashes are more likely to occur on a weekend, with 56% happening on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.