Police Track DUI, Speeding Statistics

OHIO VALLEY – Wheeling police Officer Neil Fowkes spent Monday morning logging statistics about speeding citations and drunken driving arrests from the holiday week, documenting local information that eventually will be analyzed on the state level.

Fowkes serves as the department’s coordinator and liaison to the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.

Last week he was tasked with placing a handful of officers along the roadways to patrol increased traffic that comes with the Thanksgiving holiday. The Highway Safety Program gave the department a grant to pay for the overtime wages of the officers involved in the extra patrol, which included Fowkes.

Those officers netted four DUI arrests and issued 60 speeding citations during 52 hours of overtime worked from Nov. 19 through Sunday.

They also seized one handgun and issued citations for various traffic violations. Most of the citations were issued on Interstates 70 and 470, Fowkes said, with some drivers being stopped for traveling 25 mph over the speed limit.

Fowkes also mentioned those patrols were single-officer units following residents’ vote to repeal the city’s law requiring two officers per cruiser.

Police conducted a DUI checkpoint from 4-9 p.m. Friday. Fowkes said officers stopped about 250 of the 734 drivers who passed through the checkpoint, none of whom were found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Ohio County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Drage Flick said patrols responded to 23 vehicle accidents – at least half of which occurred near The Highlands – stopped 129 vehicles and issued 15 traffic citations from Wednesday through Sunday. Two of the vehicle accidents involved injuries.

Retailers at The Highlands employed some off-duty sheriff’s deputies to provide extra security last week, Flick pointed out. On-duty deputies responded to 10 reports of shoplifting.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Jeff LaRoche said the St. Clairsville post received a federal grant to pay for about 34 overtime hours of an increased holiday patrol.

Overall, troopers stopped 222 vehicles from Thursday through Sunday and arrested five drivers who were impaired by drugs or alcohol. LaRoche said officers handled nine crashes, four of which involved injuries to a total of eight people.

Those numbers are down from a year ago, with officers responding to fewer accidents, arresting fewer impaired drivers and stopping fewer vehicles this year, according to LaRoche.