Law enforcement notes drug uptrend in OVIs

By Dean Wright -

GALLIA COUNTY — With the epidemic of hard drug use in southeastern Ohio, local law enforcement is noting that OVI arrests and some crash reports are finding suspected offenders more likely to to be influenced by substances other than alcohol.

OVI (operating vehicle under the influence) is the legal acronym most individuals across the US recognize as a DUI charge. The Gallia Sheriff’s Office, along with Gallipolis Police Department, and the Gallia Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, note a large chunk of their OVI arrests involve individuals suspect of opioid use or other such drugs.

According to Ohio State Highway Patrol Gallipolis Post Lt. Barry Call, the state, over the last year has started recording the differences between alcohol-related crashes versus other substances. Gallipolis Police Chief Jeff Boyer said he had noted an uptick in drug-related OVI crashes as well.

For example, in just two days in Gallipolis, on Jan. 12, a sedan was traveling southbound on Fourth Avenue in Gallipolis before running off the roadway and striking a pole at the intersection of Spruce Street and Fourth Avenue. The driver was not cited for OVI but was cited with failure to control. Chief Boyer said the driver was suspected of being under the influence of substances other than alcohol but tests were waiting to be returned. Then, on Jan. 13, Gallipolis police officers were dispatched to a crash on Spruce Street where a driver reportedly struck the side of a building and was cited for OVI. Officers suspected the driver to have not been under the influence of alcohol. Reports say witnesses found the driver unconscious upon their arrival with the vehicle’s airbag deployed.

“Obviously with the heroin epidemic, like any other drug, we see an influx in impaired reports, whether it be driving or pedestrian traffic,” said Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin. “The opiate-based addiction creates a different perspective based on the fact levels of impairment are such that we are experience multiple overdoses especially with people who are operating vehicles, farm equipment and things of that nature. It’s very concerning. That’s why (law enforcement) is doing its part to combat the drug trafficking trade.”

Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.

By Dean Wright