TOLEDO -- Lucas County is currently under a Level 3 Snow Emergency. According to a state legal opinion, that means only emergency vehicles are allowed on city and county roads. Schools are closed, and your vehicular freedom is temporarily halted.
"Everybody has to stay off the roads. The businesses will be shut down. The government buildings will be shut down. Courthouses will be shut down," said Lucas County Sheriff James Telb. "Everything comes to a stop."
The Level 3 emergency from Sheriff Telb applies to all roads in Lucas County, except the Ohio Turnpike. Toledo city officials say it needs to be taken seriously. "When the sheriff makes this particular call, it's under his jurisdiction and it is portions of the law," said Toledo Fire Chief Mike Bell. "So if it goes to level 3, we need to make sure that unless it's an essential issue from the standpoint of a life safety-type issue or something like that you need to be off the street."
When weather conditions are bad enough to warrant a Level 3 being issued, public safety resources become extremely precious, and eliminating traffic gives road crews the room they need to do their work. "The reason that we would go to level 3 would be to keep people home so they don't come out and get stuck on the roads, get stuck in snow drifts and then we have to worry about rescuing those folks and we can't get the street clean," said Telb.
Anyone caught driving during a Level 3 without a good reason might be subject to arrest.
According to Ohio Attorney General Opinion 86-023, the Sheriff of a county may declare a snow emergency and temporarily close county and township roads within his jurisdiction for the preservation of the public peace.
Sheriffs in Ohio have established the following guidelines:
- LEVEL 1: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads are also icy. Drive very cautiously.
- LEVEL 2: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roadways. Contact your employer to see if you should report to work.
- LEVEL 3: All roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. No one should be out during these conditions unless it is absolutely necessary to travel. All employees should contact their employer to see if they should report to work. Those traveling on the roadways may subject themselves to arrest.
County sheriffs also have the ability to close all roads in the county, which includes any city street in their jurisdiction.