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Multiple arrests made at and around checkpoint

There were multiple OVI arrests during Wednesday’s pre-Thanksgiving OVI checkpoint in Fairfield. FILE PHOTO

There were multiple OVI arrests during Wednesday’s pre-Thanksgiving OVI checkpoint in Fairfield. FILE PHOTO

BUTLER COUNTY  — A Fairfield OVI checkpoint held Wednesday night netted three arrests, and extra patrols around the checkpoint led to at least eight more.

The Butler County OVI Task Force conducted the checkpoint between 10 p.m. Wednesday and 2 a.m. Thursday on Dixie Highway near Symmes Road in Fairfield.

Officers from the city of Fairfield and Fairfield Twp., along with the Ohio State Highway Patrol checked 230 vehicles, and seven were diverted for further investigation. Of those seven vehicles checked, three arrests were made for OVI, one arrest was made for driving under suspension and one arrest was made for having an open container.Content Continues Below

Reising said that troopers from the OSHP’s Hamilton Post also made at least eight OVI arrests in the saturation patrol area around the checkpoint.The Butler County OVI Task Force is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

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69. Knock Knock

Who’s there? 
Fork who? 
Fork-get it, I’m leaving!

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OWI suspect’s car features hand-painted license plates

While most OWI pullovers are taken incredibly seriously and represent a danger, a pullover last Friday in downtown Chippewa Falls had officers puzzled and trying not to laugh.

A report of a vehicle swerving in downtown Chippewa Falls last Friday seemed like an average OWI report, but when the license plates of the vehicle were run through the police officer’s computer system, they came back as not registered and for good reason.

Suspect Nicholas Layton had hand-painted license plates on the back of a box originally containing beer in place of required state-issued license plates.

Adorned with the popular beer brand Hamm’s logo, the license plates were not identified as fake until the officer on duty was speaking to Layton, Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matthew Kelm said. Kelm said he has never seen anything like this before in his many years of law enforcement.

Layton, the man behind the fake plates, has yet to be charged in the OWI case which led his Hamm’s plates to be revealed.

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DWI suspect crashes into police car during traffic stop

Daniel Borunda, El Paso TimesPublished 3:31 p.m. MT Nov. 25, 2019

A drunken driving suspect crashed into the back of an El Paso police car late Sunday in the far East Side.

Lexis Croysdill, 23, was arrested on a driving while intoxicated charge after the crash on Montana Avenue near Lee Boulevard, police said.

The crash occurred while an officer from the Pebble Hills Regional Command was making an unrelated traffic stop at 11:17 p.m. in the eastbound lanes of Montana Avenue, police said.

Lexis Croysdill was arrested on a DWI charge after allegedly crashing into an El Paso police car.

Lexis Croysdill was arrested on a DWI charge after allegedly crashing into an El Paso police car. (Photo: Courtesy El Paso Police Department)

Police said Croysdill was driving a Nissan Altima east on Montana when she hit the patrol car.

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68. Knock Knock

Who’s there? 
Fossil who? 
Fossil last time, open the door!

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Police suddenly suspends DUI unit after winning award for enforcement

What is Emma’s Law and how does it affect someone convicted of DUI in SC?Named after Lexington 6-year-old Emma Longstreet, the 2014 law requires the installation of device on vehicles of first-offense drunk drivers. 

The Bluffton Police Department has abruptly suspended its grant-funded DUI enforcement unit, citing a need to reevaluate policies, procedures and personnel. 

Capt. Joe Babkiewicz, spokesperson for the Bluffton Police Department, said department officials suspended the unit, composed of one officer, on Monday. The DUI enforcement officer, Cpl. Baker Odom, was reassigned to regular patrol duty in a “lateral move.”

Babkiewicz declined to cite specific circumstances that led to the change.

The move comes 21 days after the Island Packet requested details about every DUI arrest made by the department since January 2017, and on the heels of two high-profile DUI arrests. 

Chief Chris Chapmond, grant supervisor Lt. Joe George, and Babkiewicz made the decision, Babkiewicz said.

“We need to reevaluate the process and procedures for it, as well as personnel for it,” he told the Island Packet. He said the department needs to look at the “entire structure” of the unit, including personnel.

“We need to put the right people in the right seats,” he said.

The department was recognized this year by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety for its high number of DUI arrests — 264 — in 2018. 

DPS named the Bluffton Police Department Agency of the Year for departments with 26-50 officers. Mount Pleasant Police Department, which has more than 100 officers, was the only department recognized that made more DUI arrests last year, with 293 arrests.

In 2013, the Bluffton Police Department made only 35 DUI arrests, according to department datareported on a 2016 grant application submitted to the state. The uptick in enforcement has coincided with a growth in Bluffton’s population and an influx of state funding.

In 2017, the Bluffton Police Department received a $125,000 grant from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs to add one officer solely dedicated to combating impaired driving. 

The grant was renewed in 2018 and 2019, providing approximately $70,000 each year. 

The grant-funded officer works only between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 a.m. and on weekends, according to grant applications submitted to the state. They also present at local schools and organizations about the dangers of impaired driving.

“Bluffton is home to approximately 334 establishments that serve alcohol, including restaurants and bars,” the department wrote on its 2017 application. Nearby Hilton Head Island, “a resort destination with an abundance of alcohol,” and Savannah, Georgia, “a hot spot for night life,” worsen the problem, according to the application.

“These surroundings lead to a high prevalence for impaired driving, where it seems to have become the norm for individuals to drive after imbibing,” wrote the department. 

The program’s goals stated on its 2019 grant renewal include the following:

  • To decrease the number of DUI-related collisions in the Town of Bluffton by 50%, from 16 in 2017 to 8, by the end of the grant period.
  • To decrease the total number of collisions in the Town of Bluffton by 20%, from 652 in 2017 to 512, by the end of the grant period.
  • To decrease the total number of traffic fatalities in the Town of Bluffton by 100%, from 5 in 2017 to 0 by the end of the grant

Total traffic collisions have dropped approximately 4.5% across two years, with 623 recorded in 2018, according to the department’s most recent grant application

“We were meeting our goals,” said Babkiewicz of the DUI unit.

Babkiewicz could not immediately provide data on DUI-related collisions over the grant period.


Until last week, Cpl. Baker Odom was the department’s DUI enforcement officer. As of Nov. 3, 2019, he had made 57 arrests this year, according to data obtained from the department through a public records request.

Two of Odom’s recent arrests were high profile and controversial. He charged two people in unrelated cases with DUI, despite toxicology and breathalyzer tests showing their consumption was under the legal limit.

One was Beaufort County School District band director Shelby Ledbetter. 

In the early-morning hours of Oct. 19, Odom stopped Ledbetter’s vehicle and administered roadside sobriety tests before arresting her. A breath test performed at Bluffton police headquarters indicated a 0.04% blood-alcohol content, below the threshold for consideration as evidence in a DUI case, reported the Packet

Two months earlier, Odom arrested the 19-year-old son of Bluffton real estate agent Nickey Maxey. The 19-year-old was charged with DUI, but his breathalyzer test recorded a blood-alcohol concentration of zero, according to South Carolina Law Enforcement Division records obtained by the Island Packet. 

After an examination, a Bluffton Police Department drug recognition expert, Detective Zatch Pouchprom, wrote in his report, “it is my opinion as a certified DRE, that (the 19-year-old) is under the influence of Cannabis (THC), a Central Nervous System Stimulant and a Central Nervous System Depressant, and is not able to operate a vehicle safely.”

A SLED-administered toxicology report and privately commissioned drug screening conducted that night and reviewed by the Packet indicate no impairing substances were present. 

The day after his son’s arrest, Maxey announced his run for Bluffton Town Council, calling local law enforcement “lacking.” Maxey later dropped out of the race. 

“I’m all in favor of DUI enforcement,” Maxey said Friday. But celebrating the number of arrests made by a certain officer can be detrimental, he said. 

“It clouds these guys. I think it takes away from their judgment. They’re trying to make numbers. It’s like the old quota system. And that’s not police enforcement.”

Both Maxey and Ledbetter’s cases are pending in Bluffton Municipal Court.

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Lawmakers drafting legislation to close drunk driving loophole

KENOSHA — 41-year-old Timothy Vandervere will spend the next 32 years of his life behind bars after a judge sentenced him Friday morningin Kenosha County court, for driving drunk in a crash that killed three members of the same family.

Back in September TODAY’S TMJ4 revealed that a loophole in the system allowed him to get a legal driver’s license despite a record of drinking and driving. Now as the case comes to a close, lawmakers are in the process of drafting legislation in hopes to prevent this from happening again.

On April 5, Vandervere crashed into the back of the Rizzo family SUV on Highway 50 in Kenosha County, killing Vincent, Mary, and Mike, and seriously injuring Jerry, but that night he never should have been on the road in the first place. 

Deputies said Vandervere’s blood-alcohol level was nearly four times the legal limit and court records showed this was his second OWI in Wisconsin. He could have faced a maximum of 132 years in prison.

He got his first in 2005 and as a result, Wisconsin took away his driving privileges indefinitely.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation told TODAY’S TMJ4, it entered that information into what’s called the ‘Problem Driver Pointer System,’ also known as PDPS. It’s a system that other states can choose to search if a driver has a serious offense. 

Three years after his drunk driving citation, Vandervere filled out an application to renew his Illinois driver’s license. He wrote ‘no,’ when asked if his driving privileges had been revoked in any other state. 

TODAY’S TMJ4 reached out to the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State to learn why they didn’t see Vandervere’s 2005 conviction when he renewed his license in 2008. 

Spokesperson Dave Druker called it an “act of perjury.”

“At that point in time Illinois did not have a system where we would look at all driver renewals in the system,” Druker said. “We do it for truckers and for first-time applicants. We check on people moving in from another state, but when something was a simple renewal we did not use PDPS at that point.” 

Instead, Illinois relies on what’s called the ‘Driver License Compact’ or DLC. This compact is an agreement between states to share information on drivers with serious offenses, like OWI. Wisconsin is one of five states that does not belong to the compact. 

“The only way we would have known would be if Wisconsin officials had let us know,” Druker said. 

When it comes to the ‘Driver License Compact,’ a spokesperson for Wisconsin DOT told TODAY’S TMJ4, “Wisconsin’s participation in the DLC would require legislative action, and the Wisconsin Legislature has not taken that action.”

TODAY’S TMJ4 then reached out to state lawmakers about the DLC and found most had no idea it even existed. Of the 57 e-mails sent out, TODAY’S TMJ4 received 14 responses. More than half had never heard of the DLC. 

However, this could soon change. 

After receiving an e-mail from TODAY’S TMJ4 and seeing the station’s previous report, Representative Tip McGuire (D) of Kenosha contacted lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. 

“Through much of your reporting we had learned that we hadn’t been a part of the DLC,” McGuire said. “There are families that have been ripped apart because of this and so we have to remedy that.”

McGuire is now in the early process of drafting legislation to join the compact.

Representative Samantha Kerkman (R) of Salem, supports the move. She has a personal connection to the Rizzo family. She was with them just before the crash.

“That night my family served the Rizzo family at dinner and left on a road that I drive several times a day, and you know that could have been any family member of mine out there,” Kerkman said. 

Both lawmakers said it’s time to take action, now that they’re aware of the problem.

“This story I think that brought it to a number of our attention that we weren’t using this data, and so now that we are aware of this, this is out here, I want to make sure that we’re utilizing it how we should be,” Kerkman said.

“Thank you guys for covering this and for making sure that this issue is brought out there,” McGuire added.

The Rizzo family told TODAY’S TMJ4 they fully support joining the compact and hope it will happen soon.

Right now a timetable remains unclear.