By Stacy Kess
Mr. Smith had been drinking nearly eight hours when he was booked at the Delaware County Jail for operating a vehicle under the influence.
He was placid at first, then became belligerent to the corrections officers as they booked him.
“It’s an odd feeling when that door slams,” said jail director Ron Krueger. “We would think Friday and Saturday night would be our busy night. But every night is a busy night. Every night that sally port is busy.”
Mr. Smith, a fictional character played by corrections officer Josh Young, was part of a demonstration Tuesday for media on the immediate consequences on OVI.
Of 268 inmates on Tuesday, Krueger said 70 percent were in jail on drug- or alcohol-related charges.
“Drunk driving is still too prevalent in our country and our community,” said Sheriff Russ Martin.
The demonstration was part of The Delaware County Safe Communities Coalition in recognition of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign.
Martin said that impaired driving is a problem seen all too often, but that few people know what happens after the arrest is made.
Mr. Smith was led into the jail in handcuffs, then patted down. He removed his shoes and emptied his pockets. Then he was put in a holding cell.
“He made a conscious decision to get behind the wheel and drive,” Krueger said. “Once he’s here, he’s here to stay.”
After some time in the holding cell, Mr. Smith was brought out for a 12-step evaluation by a drug recognition expert to determine the impairment was due to drugs, alcohol or possibly a medical condition.
“The number of cases that are drug-involved or a combination of alcohol and drug involvement is on the rise,” said Municipal Court Judge David Sunderman.
He said penalties in the early 1980s were more at the discretion of judges than they are today. Now, with mandatory minimums, penalties are becoming more severe.
“I don’t know of any statute amended more than OVI in the last 20 years,” Sunderman said.
He said being prepared to find an alternate to driving before drinking is important. He said many people are surprised at how high they register on a Breathalyzer after only a couple of drinks.
“Once you’ve had a couple of drinks, you may feel okay to drive, but you don’t have good judgement to make that decision,” Sunderman said.
Reporter Stacy Kess is on Twitter @StacyMKess.