The message "don't drink and drive" has been around for decades. Gov. John Kasich has updated the message for 2012 with the Ohio State Highway Patrol serving as his enforcement arm.
The danger is real any day of the week and any time of the day, according to Sgt. Garic Warner, of the Marietta post of the state highway patrol.
The potential for a catastrophe by driving intoxicated should be a deterrent, but the numbers show violations remain a problem in our area and around our state.
Across Ohio, arrests on charges of operating a motor vehicle intoxicated totaled 23,708, an increase of 7 percent from 2010. In Washington County, state troopers made 277 arrests for OVI. So far this year, the number of arrests was at 60. Clearly, officials say, drivers who drink remain a threat on local highways.
New this year is the state's hotline number - #677 - to report a suspected drunk driver. Warner says the patrol is committed to checking out citizen reports of suspected driving under the influence.
The patrol's sobriety checkpoints will continue throughout the year to emphasize that drivers aren't intoxicated behind the wheel. The first of three planned checkpoints will be set up in May, Warner said.
We agree with Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite, who says he'd like to see more checkpoints set up in the city. The focus is to make the streets safer.
The public's role against impaired driving is vital, too, according to Lt. Mary Pfeifer, commander of the Marietta patrol post.
Law enforcement officials at all levels emphasize how important we can be to fighting the problem by doing the following:
- Influence friends and family to make responsible decisions about safety.
- Designate a driver when going out.
- Insist that everyone in the vehicle buckle up.
But all the checkpoints, #677 calls, and OVI citations won't do as much as taking personal responsibility by not driving impaired in the first place.