Drunk drivers are more likely to get arrested in Fairfield than most other communities in the county, according to data analyzed by the Journal-News.
Fairfield police officers arrested 291 people in 2017, which is nearly twice the number of impaired drivers arrested by Hamilton officers (157) and by Butler County Sheriff’s deputies (153).
And OVI arrests in Fairfield have been rising since 2015, according to the data. From 2015 to 2017, OVI arrests increased by 72.2 percent.
“The goal is to send a message that driving while intoxicated is not only dangerous, but certainly illegal, and we’re going to enforce the OVI laws,” said Fairfield Police Chief Steve Maynard.
The increase in OVI numbers is part of an approach where officers are encouraged to “go out and be proactive, making arrests where appropriate,” Maynard said.
“OVI enforcement is important. It’s something that has serious ramifications, and we try to get the officers out there and try to actively and aggressively go after OVI drivers,” he said.
The increase also corresponds with new officers hired at the Fairfield Police Department. Maynard said many new officers working third shift.
“When you get a group of younger, eager, aggressive officers, I think you’re going to see a jump,” the chief said. “That’s not to say the older officers aren’t just as dedicated. Just like anything else, you get the younger guys that are excited about the job, you’re going to get more productivity out of the officers, in my opinion.”
It’s been more than two years since Fairfield had a fatal accident involving a drunk driver, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which tracks all fatal accidents.
On Jan. 5, 2016, at 4:33 a.m., a 34-year-old woman was killed on Mack Road after she failed to control her vehicle. Her blood alcohol level was 0.24. The last fatal OVI-related death prior to the Mack Road accident was at 11:19 p.m. on May 19, 2015, when a 31-year-old was killed. His blood alcohol level was 0.203.
The legal limit in Ohio is 0.08.
But OVI arrests are not the only things up, Maynard said. Arrests overall are up.
From 2015 to 2016, overall arrests in the city were up by 40 percent. From 2016 to 2017, total arrests were up 30 percent.
While OVIs are significantly up in Fairfield, finding and stopping drunk and impaired drivers is a priority for all departments, according to authorities.
Lt. Clint Arnold, Ohio State Highway Patrol Hamilton post commander, said education is a primary tool to prevent impaired driving, and any impaired driver “is a number that’s too high.”
“Arresting impaired drivers is a top priority,” he said. “We focus our efforts to combat impaired driving by aggressive traffic enforcement efforts.”
Arnold said 60 percent of Butler County’s fatal crashes involved impaired driving.