The Delaware Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said its recent OVI checkpoint was a success, and while there were no OVI arrests made, one pursuit did end in a crash.
The checkpoint was held for more than two hours on U.S. Route 23 Friday evening. The post reported Tuesday that 751 vehicles passed through the checkpoint zone, and 137 of those vehicles were checked. The checks lasted on average 30 seconds per vehicle. In all, only two vehicles were diverted, but no drivers were found to be under the influence.
Lt. Robert Curry, commander of the Delaware Post, said the night was incident free until just before troopers were about to wrap up when a northbound vehicle made a u-turn to avoid the checkpoint.
“It went really well until the very end,” Curry said. “I had just walked out to inform the (sergeant) that we were going to tear down in 15 minutes. I heard a car squealing tires, revving its engine performing a u-turn to get out of the checkpoint line. (The vehicle) ran over a couple of cones, nearly hit a couple officers, and side-swiped a northbound vehicle and then fled southbound on 23.”
Curry said the patrol always has a chase vehicle on standby during checkpoints, and the chase car pursued the driver for for 16 minutes. Curry said the 28-mile chase started on U.S. 23 and went as far as Interstate 270 and Interstate 71 before ending in a crash on state Route 161.
The driver of the vehicle fled on foot and was not apprehended by troopers, but Curry said the patrol is aware of the man’s identity and the investigation is ongoing.
Despite the chase, Curry said he considered the checkpoint a successful one.
“Other than that, the checkpoint went very well,” he said. “It’s a public informational type of event. It’s to deter you from drinking and driving. (We’re) trying to get people to make good decisions. (A) checkpoint with no impaired drivers, that’s a win.”
Curry said there have been 13 fatal crashes in Delaware County so far this year with 70% of them involving alcohol or drugs.
“That’s why we do what we do,” he said.
The Delaware post has run a similar checkpoint for many years, Curry added, and when the patrol first started, the number of impaired drivers at the checkpoint was in the teens.
“It was unbelievable how many impaired drivers we arrested at the checkpoint,” Curry said. “(The) last couple of years we haven’t gotten any.”
Curry said he hopes that means people are making the decision to not drink and drive.
During the checkpoint, the patrol had units on alternate routes to locate impaired drivers who may have been trying to avoid the checkpoint.
Curry said the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office assisted with two deputies. He added more agencies typically assist in the checkpoints, but with the checkpoint happening during the Delaware County Fair, many deputies and Delaware city police officers were already committed for the evening.
The patrol is not likely to conduct another checkpoint this year, Curry said, noting the incoming cold weather makes checkpoints more dangerous for personnel. He said the patrol will continue to do increased enforcement through the winter on days that tend to have increased numbers of drunk drivers like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Super Bowl Sunday.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.