SUMMIT COUNTY — Motorists will want to be extra careful about excessive drinking and driving in the county Friday night.
Richfield Police Lt. Joe Davis, spokesperson for the Summit County OVI Task Force, said the task force will operate at least two checkpoints between 10 p.m. Friday and 3 a.m. Saturday.
Davis has said that the task force does not disclose locations in advance because it believes this will be more of a deterrent.
He said the checkpoints are planned now because the last school spring breaks are coming to an end.
Motorists approaching a checkpoint will not be stopped without warning. Signs announcing the checkpoint are posted hundreds of feet in advance. Sober drivers are detained only very briefly, long enough to show their licenses and for an officer to determine if they are showing any obvious signs of intoxication, such as bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech, confusion. and an odor of alcohol. If they do not, they will be waved through quickly.
If signs of intoxication are seen, the driver will be walked to a diversion area set aside and an officer will pull the vehicle over to allow other traffic through. The driver will then be put through field sobriety tests and may be asked to submit to a blood alcohol content test.
Davis has said reduced arrests over the years indicate that the checkpoints are having an impact. One example, he said, is a checkpoint that the task force has "traditionally" set up in Stow because of downtown Halloween celebrations in Kent. Years ago, a number of drivers would be arrested, but now people found inebriated in vehicles are more often just passengers, said Davis.
The task force most recently conducted two checkpoints, both in Tallmadge, in the evening March 17 and early morning March 18. Police charged three people with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, with a number of non-OVI charges and citations issued to others.
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JeffSaunders_RP.