OVI offenders arrested, but not always booked

OVI checkpoint (WDTN Photo/Mike Burianek)

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) – Law enforcement officials say they’ve stepped up their efforts to crack down on drunk drivers.

Checkpoints for operating a vehicle impaired (OVI) across the Miami Valley have increased, and officials in Montgomery County have even received funding to manage these heightened checkpoints.

In Clark County, Ohio State Highway Patrol (OHSP) troopers have already made 291 OVI arrests.

One of them was Rock Behymer; his arrest Tuesday overnight was his seventh for the same offense.

When he was arrested, the Cincinnati man didn’t go to jail, despite his lengthy criminal background which includes his six prior OVI arrests.

Instead, he was given a citation.

State Troopers want drivers like Behymer off the streets and jailed, but there can be a roadblock to doing that.

2 NEWS’ Beairshelle Edmé found that even if you’re a high offender, it does not always ensure jail time, something else impacts that decision.

Asked if being unable to jail offenders hurts law enforcement’s efforts, Sgt. Merrill Thompson of the Springfield OHSP post answered, “It is a little– I don’t want to say it’s difficult. We would like to be able to put them in jail. Sometimes we just can’t.”

The reason is because the Clark County Jail might have limited space, though Sheriff Gene Kelly tells 2 NEWS the jail is not as full as it once was years ago.

“There’s an agreement between us and the sheriff’s office that we want to use those beds for something that’s maybe more of a dangerous citation or dangerous charge,” Thompson said.

The sergeant says he’s unsure how this may impact their efforts to deter drivers from becoming offenders. His hope is that Behymer, as well as those like him, will be found guilty in court.

If so, the sergeant says those offenders will face tougher penalties because of their previous OVI convictions.

2 NEWS called the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to ask what they are doing to keep repeat offenders from getting behind the wheel. They did not return my call.

Springfield troopers say despite having to work around jail limitations, they think their efforts are working.

Compared to the last several years, OVI-related crashes in Ohio are down 6 percent. For 2015, Springfield troopers have made 291 OVI arrests.

“We don’t just shrug it off,” Thompson stressed. “We make sure that if we can put them in jail, we do put them in jail for the offense.”

There is no alternative jail where Springfield troopers can book these offenders. But they say the partnership with Clark County is working and so are their efforts.

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