To serve, protect and drink?

Ohio police contracts set allowable booze levels.
Associated Press
Dec 1, 2013


Some law enforcement contracts across Ohio set allowable alcohol levels for officers on duty.

State Highway Patrol troopers and state park police are among those who can't be disciplined for having blood alcohol levels below .04 percent, the Dayton Daily News reported. Some local agencies in the state have higher permissible levels, while others have zero tolerance on drinking.

Officials say such language has often been in contracts for years.

Union officials say that doesn't mean drinking on duty is condoned, but the level helps safeguard officers who might have taken cough syrup that contains alcohol or were unexpectedly called out to duty.

"I can't for the life of me think of why it would be so important to have an acceptable level of alcohol permissible," said Doug Scoles, executive director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Ohio. "Why's that even in the contract? That's flabbergasting to hear."

Highway Patrol Staff Lt. Anne Ralston said the .04 language has been in state contracts for years, including those for the Patrol, park rangers, other state law enforcement and other state employees. It states: "No consequences will attach to any result below a .04 percent level."

Ralston said that doesn't mean they would be allowed to remain on duty after drinking. Someone testing below the allowed level would likely be sent home, she said.

"In no way is coming to work with any amount of alcohol or drugs in an employee's system in line with our core values or our mission," Ralston said.

In Delaware County's Liberty Township near Columbus, firefighters don't face discipline unless they are legally drunk at .08 percent. Township administrator David Anderson said he agreed to that level during union negotiations on drug and alcohol policy because in an emergency, "I don't need anybody deciding not to come because that number is artificially low."

Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said no alcohol amount is OK for his officers while on duty.

"We have to make split-second decisions and we could take somebody's life in a split-second decision, so they have to be on their best game," Plummer said.

Sgt. Jeff Gebhart, who represents Butler County sheriff's detectives, supervisors and deputies in negotiations, said the alcohol policy has probably remained in contracts because it never comes up. He said he has yet to see a deputy on duty tested for suspicion being impaired.

"It's not something that we've really bargained hard for," he said.




No offense, but that's ridiculous & hypocritical at the very least.

Clark W. Griswald

I am offended


I can't believe that this is even being considered?? I know that if they pulled someone over and gave them test they wouldn't register, but how fair would it be to the person taking it to smell alcohol on the officer's breath as well? And if the officer is taking medication with alcohol in it I don't know that it would register anyway - and maybe they shouldn't be working if they're on anything that would! I'm sure their doctor would love that one! I know most people think that LEs are above the law and would never do anything wrong but as our own officers have proven in the past year alone they aren't but allowing officers to have alcohol in their system in just wrong on so many levels I can't even think!! If they've been drinking and their superior calls and asks them to come in they need to say they've been drinking and that needs to be the end of it, not "well let's just pull out the ole' breathilizer and see how bad it is and you can go hit the streets!". No!!! Like that Sheriff Plummer says, they need to be on their best and we as citizens deserve it.


So what about the officer who needs a bit of cough syrup? As I saw on the news this morning that is one thing to consider for this. Most effective cough syrups have a wee bit of alcohol in them.


Yes... a wee bit... which would mean the officer would need to down the bottle for it to even register on the box.

Erie Sniper

Total BS because if I have a "bit of cough syrup" I will be arrested for OVI. OVI deos not only pertain to alcohol, it can be anything intoxicating.


No you won't. You seem to be forgetting that you're allowed to have up to .079999 yourself, which is more than the .04 state troopers are allowed. Furthermore, there are no non-prescription cough syrups whose active ingredients would qualify you for an OVI even at double dosages.

A Young Adult's...

This is an odd article. "Ralston says that doesn't mean they would be allowed to stay on duty after drinking." Well, what if someone registers a 0.02? They are sent home without consequence? OK, I need a day off so I am going to drink 3 ounces of beer and head to work and administer the breathalyzer myself.

looking around

At .04 is he sure the driver he is pulling over really crossed the center line? I think he's half way to being drunk!

danbury dad

There are cough medicines that have no alcohol in them. This is a bogus excuse. As for being called in unexpectedly that to is bogus as they would be on call and as such they should not be using alcohol. They should be held to a higher standard than most. Zero tolerance should be instated.


They might not be on call. In the event of a disaster or terrorist attack they might be pulling in every officer on the payroll.


A lot of union contracts have this

getit right be4...

The FOP is a organization ran by Thugs.

Pioneer Trail Pimp

Don't blame the FOP, the county officials we continue to elect are spineless jellyfish that are being outsmarted by the FOP's negotiating team contract after contract. That's like blaming the obese child when the parent feeds them nothing but twinkies, pizza and ice cream.

sandtown born a...

Stupid is as stupid does, what about the laws that state a ZERO acceptable level to possess a firearm?? This must only apply to the general public and not the high and mighty law enforcement.