The Labor Day weekend is here and members of the Mahoning County OVI Task Force and Mahoning Safe Communities are committed to taking part in the national campaign "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" sponsored by the National Highway and Safety Administration.
According to statistics provided by Canfield Assistant police Chief Scott Weamer, in 2009 there were 1.4 million motorists arrested for operating a vehicle while impaired. In the past five years, 11,000 people died in alcohol-related crashes. To go one step further, in the past five years, 900 died from alcohol-related crashes over Labor Day weekend.
"We are asking people to make wise choices and don't drink and drive," Weamer said.
The national campaign has two focus points, enforcement and education. Weamer said the OVI Task Force will handle the enforcement side. The Office of Criminal Justice Services has provided funding for checkpoints, blitzes and increased patrols. The task force has already held two checkpoints, one in Boardman and one in Canfield, that yielded four OVI arrests and 30 other arrests and citations.
"We are planning more saturation patrols for Labor Day weekend," Weamer said.
While the added patrols are the enforcement side of the campaign, the education side will be handled by Mahoning Safe Communities. They will set up a booth at the Canfield Fair to show people what it is like to be impaired.
"We will have a booth next to the K-105 tent," said Tracy Styka, spokesperson for Mahoning Safe Communities.
She said the booth will have the drunk goggles that fairgoers are invited to try out while playing corn hole or miniature golf. The games are set up to show people just how an impaired driver would judge things.
Also on hand will be several members of the task force who will show people the tests they perform on suspected drunk drivers.
"It's a joint effort to bring awareness over drinking and driving," Weamer said. "The bottom line is to be smart. Don't drink and drive."