The Westerville Division of Police will employ some new tactics to keep impaired drivers off the road for the Labor Day weekend.

The Westerville Division of Police will employ some new tactics to keep impaired drivers off the road for the Labor Day weekend.

Police Chief Joe Morbitzer said extra officers will be on duty this weekend to deal with the influx of visitors expected to attend the city's sesquicentennial celebration.

"We're looking at the celebration that's going on in the community this weekend, and we will have enough staff on duty to take care of providing a fun and safe event for everybody," Morbitzer said. "This year, we've also gone to a different staffing setup -- before, we had equal amounts of people on shift with equal amounts of days off. Now we have gone to six platoons that report at different times, with extra officers assigned to the times of the week that need peak service."

In addition to extra cruisers patrolling the streets, Morbitzer said the division has also recently begun partnering with Columbus' No Refusal initiative.

"What happens is, when a person refuses (a breath test), we immediately call and get a search warrant, which is granted on the spot, and then the suspect is taken to Riverside Hospital and blood is drawn," Morbitzer said.

According to Ohio law, refusing a breath test results in an automatic suspension of driving privileges for one year. Someone convicted of a first offense of driving impaired can also receive an administrative license suspension (ALS) for 90 days for a BAC result of .10 percent or higher, plus a minimum of three consecutive days in jail or three-day intervention program, a fine of $200 to $1,000 and a court-ordered license suspension of 90 days to three years.

Sgt. Jeff Sowards of the Columbus Police Department has been acting as a liaison between that department and participating suburban communities since the initiative began this year on Memorial Day weekend. Sowards said the CPD works to streamline the process for the newly participating communities.

"I think this process has shown the participating officers just how quick these things can be done," he said. "Typically, these arrests take anywhere from two to four hours to begin with, and we didn't want to add another step to that, so we volunteer to take that step out. The guys who work third-shift highway and other traffic officers have stepped up and said 'we'll take the responsibility of writing and filing the paperwork,' so it doesn't create any more hardship on the patrol officers."

Sowards said the initiative has been in effect in Westerville for about a week. The city recorded its 17th warrant request Monday night.

"It would be impossible to track, but we know people (that are suspected of driving impaired) who are saying no to the breath test, when the officer says, 'this will take an hour longer and we'll draw your blood,' they say, 'OK, I'll blow in the machine.'"

Morbitzer said that while the initiative is still new to Westerville police, he hopes to expand it and keep it operational in the future.