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We're sharing the road with more drunk drivers in Northeast Ohio

Numbers showing spike only tell part of the story
OVI Checkpoint
Posted at 6:12 PM, Oct 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-04 19:09:55-04

LINNDALE, Ohio — Concern is growing about your next trip across town.

Police in Northeast Ohio are seeing a significant uptick in the number of drunk drivers on our roads, and it's not just after the bars let out on the weekend.

“During the day, from morning to night. We're seeing about a 10% increase in OVIs, which is really alarming to the police department," said Tim Franczak, Linndale Police Chief.

The numbers showing a spike in OVI arrests only tell part of the story.

In the City of Cleveland, cases are up more than 23%.

In Cuyahoga County, Ohio State Highway Patrol reports a 10% increase.

"It is concerning with these numbers going up," said Christine Jordan with Alternative Horizon Counseling.

There's also another disturbing trend emerging among those getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

Jordan said the drunk drivers they've seen have been significantly more intoxicated.

"In the driver's intervention program, we were seeing more accidents, we were seeing more dangerous outcomes than we had seen prior to the pandemic," said Jordan.

Jordan said the pandemic has pushed social drinkers into the moderate category, and those already there into severe.

"Our families are out there; our children are out there and we're out there too,” said Franczak.

Franczak shared a video of a Friday night traffic stop with News 5.

It shows a female driver trying to complete a field sobriety test.

"And then stated that she will be doing Kung-Fu and then started to use some type of martial arts techniques instead of following the directions of the officers," said Franczak.

Franczak said that woman's blood alcohol was more than twice the legal limit.

"Some of these people can barely walk," said Sgt. Ray Santiago, Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Ohio State Highway Patrol launched a dashboard online where Ohioans can track OVI traffic stops, crashes and overall enforcement in their communities.

So far this year, they've logged 118 fatal OVI crashes – just in Northeast Ohio alone.

"It's a shame that it becomes relevant to, you know, individuals only through tragedy. And that's what we're trying to avoid," said Santiago.

In the meantime, demand continues to soar for Christine Jordan's 72-hour diversion program for first-time offenders.

"For some people, this is it. They've learned — kind of — their lesson, if you will, they and for other people, it's the beginning of treatment," said Jordan. "It's the beginning process to either mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment or both."