BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF)
Almost half the impaired drivers being pulled over this season are drug-impaired rather than drunk, said Lt. Maurice Waddell, post commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol in St. Clairsville.
He said the percentage of drugged drivers among those arrested for OVI (operating a vehicle while impaired) rose from 35% last year to 45% this year.
The Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over campaign began August 26 and runs through September 7, which includes the Labor Day weekend.
Lt. Waddell said people tend to think of impaired driving to mean alcohol, but he said with prescribed drugs and illegal narcotics, drugged driving is dramatically on the rise.
He said the three summer holidays—Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day—always seem to bring out impaired drivers, although this year with COVID-19 keeping down the number of gatherings, it’s unknown how Labor Day traffic will look.
He urged everyone who has taken any substance—alcohol or drugs—to get a designated driver.
He said impaired driving is a serious matter that puts innocent people at risk.
According to the patrol, last year in Ohio, there were 13,047 OVI-related crashes, resulting in 597 deaths.
In those crashes, 53% of the drivers at fault were between 21 and 39 years old, and 71% were male, he said.
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