Police will increase driving checkpoints this weekend

Maura Zurick

With the Super Bowl around the corner, Ohio State Highway Patrol said they will increase law enforcement and checkpoints to keep drunken driving under control.

Recordpub.com reported a 20 percent drop in drunken driving arrests filed in Portage County Municipal Courts in Kent and Ravenna between 2009 and 2010.

Sgt. Brian Holt of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said he believes improved and increased traffic law enforcement are contributing factors.

“Our troopers make traffic stops more often and look for impaired drivers, especially on the late shift after midnight,” Holt said. “We have checkpoints and increase OVI (another term for DUI) stations on all the major holidays.”

Administrative Lt. Paul Canfield of the Kent City Police said although he is happy with the decrease, he doesn’t expect it to stay down.

“The rate of DUIs changes a lot. It’s pretty random,” Canfield said.

He said one reason for the drop in arrests may be the higher forms of punishment. Canfield said the penalties for a DUI have gone up. A first time DUI offender now faces the penalty of spending three days in jail or taking a three-day DUI course.

Holt said he also believes taxi services and other transportation options are a major factor as to why the drunken driving rate is down.

“I think one major reason why it’s down right now is because of the four cab companies available in Kent, so people have an alternative to driving under the influence,” Canfield said.

Don Rader, the owner of Action Taxi in Kent, said the company has been in business for three years. He said he gets an increase in business on big holidays in Kent such as St. Patrick’s Day, Collegefest, New Year’s and Halloween. Rader said that a cab is always an alternative to a dangerous situation like drunken driving.

“It’s a lot cheaper to take a taxi than to pay a DUI fine or replace a life because a life is priceless,” Rader said.

Sophomore theater studies major Chase Ziegler said that drunken driving has become more of a taboo today and that there are many other alternative options.

“I would say the drunken driving rate is down because kids are being more responsible and not drinking and driving as much,” Ziegler said. “I feel like there is a lot of emphasis on not drinking and driving in today’s society.”

Canfield said they have routine patrols, but the responsibility also lies within the individual.

“Take advantage of the alternatives and plan ahead,” Canfield said. “Take a cab or call someone for a ride.”

Contact Maura Zurick at [email protected].