Ohio Patrol doubling sobriety checkpoints

First Posted: 8/21/2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A federal grant is allowing the State Highway Patrol to run nearly twice as many sobriety checkpoints on Ohio roads this year, an increase that's not only removing impaired drivers from the state's highways but also is deterring others from drinking and driving, officials say.

As part of a late-summer crackdown on drunken driving, the patrol planned to operate 27 sobriety stops throughout the state this weekend, part of an expected 100 checkpoints troopers would man through the end of this year, The Columbus Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/pUqMzv ).

The patrol will be able to set up almost twice as many checkpoints as it did throughout 2010 with the help of roughly $450,000 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The money is being used pay troopers overtime for stepped-up efforts to fight drunken driving, said Lt. Anne Ralston, a patrol spokeswoman.

The patrol publicizes the locations of its checkpoints in advance, which helps keep some motorists from getting behind the wheel after they've had too much to drink, Ralston said.

"The number of arrests doesn't tell the whole story," she said. "Deterrence is just as valuable as making an arrest for OVI (operating a vehicle under the influence) at the checkpoint."

As for the arrests, even what might appear to be a small number at a checkpoint has importance for safety, troopers said. Lt. Craig Cvetan of the Lancaster post in central Ohio's Fairfield County said he was "very satisfied" with the three arrests that resulted from a recent checkpoint near the community of Millersport in the Buckeye Lake area.

"Anytime you remove an impaired driver, you are potentially saving a life," Cvetan told the Dispatch. "You can't put a value on what that's worth."

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of police sobriety stops, but they still have their critics, including David Goldberger, law professor emeritus at the Ohio State University College of Law. He calls the practice a police intrusion.

"Let's be realistic, it's a little scary," Goldberger said. "I don't care who you are, when you're stopped by police, it's scary

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