Ever wonder what those "snow emergency levels" mean? Wayne is already up to a Level 2, while Portage, Medina and Summit observe Level 1. If it gets up to Level 3, odds are you won't notice anyway -- unless you are just asking to get a trip to the county jail.
Level 1 may be what you're seeing now, as snow and ice build up and you need to be cautious. Level 2 means call work ahead to see if you absolutely need to be there, adds the word "extremely" to the caution level. WhenLevel 3 is invoked, that's when it gets most serious. Police can arrest you for just being on the road during a major winter weather event, with up to 30 days in the pokey and a $250 fine to go with it but those penalties increase if being on the highway creates a "risk of physical harm to persons or property."
LINK HERE to see the updated AkronNewsNow listing of closings
LINK HERE for weather radar and the latest forecast from the National Weather Service
With today's near-blizzard weather conditions, making the case it's risky to yourself and others to be on the road may not be as difficult to prove in a court of law as one might think. State law gives the right to all 88 of Ohio's sheriff's the authority to declare snow emergencies on all highways, including those in other jurisdictions they may not necessarily cover such as townships, villages or cities.
(State of Ohio)
Snow Emergency Classifications
A county sheriff may, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code sections 311.07 and 311.08, declare a snow emergency and temporarily close the state roads and municipal streets within his/her jurisdiction when such action is reasonably necessary for the preservation of the public peace. Ohio Attorney General’s Opinion 97-015, issued April 1, 1997, concluded that this authority includes state roads, county and township roads and municipal streets.
Any person who knowingly hampers or fails to obey a lawful order of the sheriff declaring a snow emergency and temporarily closing highways, roads and/or streets within his/her jurisdiction may be subject to criminal prosecution under Ohio Revised Code Section 2917.13, "Misconduct at an emergency" or other applicable law or ordinance. A violation under that section is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, punishable by a jail sentence not to exceed 30 days and/or a fine not to exceed $250. If the misconduct creates a risk of physical harm to persons or property, it is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by a jail sentence not to exceed 180 days and/or a fine not to exceed $1,000.
Snow Emergency Classifications
LEVEL 1: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be icy. Motorists are urged to drive very cautiously.
LEVEL 2: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be very icy. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roads. Contact your employer to see if you should report to work. Motorists should use extreme caution.
LEVEL 3: All roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. No one should be driving during these conditions unless it is absolutely necessary to travel or a personal emergency exists. All employees should contact their employer to see if they should report to work. Those traveling on the roads may subject themselves to arrest.
ORC 2917.13. Misconduct at emergency.
(A) No person shall knowingly do any of the following:
1. Hamper the lawful operations of any law enforcement officer, firefighter, rescuer, medical person, emergency medical services person, or other authorized person, engaged in the person’s duties at the scene of a fire, accident, disaster, riot or emergency of any kind;
2. Hamper the lawful activities of any emergency facility person who is engaged in the person’s duties in an emergency facility;
3. Fail to obey the lawful order of any law enforcement officer engaged in the law enforcement officer’s duties at the scene of or in connection with a fire, accident, disaster or emergency of any kind.
(B) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit access or deny information to any news media representative in the lawful exercise of the news media representative's duties.
(C) Whoever violates this section is guilty of misconduct at an emergency. Except as otherwise provided in this division, misconduct at an emergency is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If a violation of this section creates a risk of physical harm to persons or property, misconduct at an emergency is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
(D) As used in this section:
1. "Emergency medical services person" is the singular of "emergency medical services personnel" as defined in section 2133.21 of the Revised Code.
2. "Emergency facility person" is the singular of "emergency facility personnel" as defined in section 2909.04 of the Revised Code.
3. "Emergency facility" has the same meaning as in section 2909.04 of the Revised Code.
Effective Date: 03-22-2004
To view the state’s weather-related road closures and restrictions, visit the Ohio Department of Transportation’s traffic Web site at www.buckeyetraffic.org.
Attorney General's Opinion No. 97-015
Authority of County Sheriff to Close Roads during Snow Emergencies
"The county sheriff may, pursuant to Revised Code 311.07, declare a snow emergency and temporarily close the state roads and municipal streets within his jurisdiction when such action is reasonably necessary for the preservation of the public peace. (1986 Op. Attorney General No. 86-023 approved and followed.)"
To briefly summarize this opinion, the county sheriff’s authority to close county and township roads during a snow emergency was expanded to include closure of state roads and municipal streets. The authority falls generally within a county sheriff’s duty to preserve the public peace. The Attorney General’s opinion is that there should be no distinction among the different types of roads within each county so long as the circumstances warrant closure during snow emergencies.