DUI hotline can help make roads safer for drivers

Carolyn Fertig

Credit: DKS Editors

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, Ohio troopers are out looking for signs of dangerous driving.

But even they will admit they can’t catch everyone who is drinking and driving. That’s why they ask citizens to be on the lookout for drunken driving.

1-800-GRAB-DUI is a hotline established in 1991 for citizens to report impaired drivers or people who continue to operate a motor vehicle in spite of license suspensions or prior convictions.

Anyone in the state of Ohio can call the number for any suspicious driving, said Sgt. Richard Reeder of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

“We want to catch anyone and everyone that may be impaired on the road,” he said. “We want to get those people off the road before it causes harm to anyone.”

There are many driving indicators that could point to an impaired driver, said Lt. Jayme Cole of the Kent Police Department.

If a car is driving left of center, straddling two lanes, weaving back and forth or ignoring traffic lights or signs, it may be an indication of a drunken driver. Impaired drivers are more likely to be driving during the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., he said.

The toll-free number is outsourced to Quest, an outside company that handles the calls and notifies law enforcement. Its funding comes out of the highway operations safety fund, and received from taxpayers. In the 2009 fiscal year, the program cost $16,195.61, Reeder said.

When calling 1-800-GRAB-DUI, be as descriptive as possible about the make of the car, license plate number, color of the car and what action is suspicious. Having an accurate idea of the location is also important for the operator to contact dispatch.

Reeder said the program is very successful and many people seem to use it.

“The number has been very effective,” he said. “We have had many calls about impaired drivers as well as made many arrests of impaired drivers.”

Though drivers are encouraged to report other drivers who are under the influence, it is also important that people are safe when they go out, Cole said.

“If you are going out, whether you drink or not, you should make plans and stick with it,” he said. “Take a cab, walk or have a designated driver, because we are actively on the streets every night. We take drinking and driving very seriously.”

Contact public affairs reporter Carolyn Fertig at [email protected]