Snow Emergencies – An Update

While checking out the stats on who has been visiting my blog and what they have been reading I noticed I had over 700 hits yesterday and other 500 today. It is the most visits I have had on this blog EVER. The most popular article is one I wrote in 2005 about Snow Emergencies here in Ohio.(check out A Level 3 snow emergency, doesn’t necessarily mean employees must stay home)

The reason that article is popular is because yesterday Ohio was hit with its largest snow storm since 2004 when we got hit with snow, ice, and then more snow. The article was about Hancock county leaders and business owners having a conference to complain about employees using a called Level 3 Snow Emergency to ditch work. The government leaders told the business owners that while a Level 3 means not to drive on the roads – they wouldn’t interfere with businesses that forced workers to drive in it to make it to work.

The employees think that an absence caused by complying with an order not to be on the roads should not count against them at work for missing time. Business leaders are worried about losing money if they have to close down because they don’t have enough staff to work. Hancock government leaders sided with the businesses and said even though the order was to stay off the road, law enforcement wouldn’t arrest people who did. They would only act if the driver caused an accident or impeded emergency workers from doing their jobs. The penalty would be no worse than a ticket depending on the seriousness of the action.

Today, a reader sent me a note that said:

I have more questions about these “Level 3 Snow emergencies”. They’re on the radio now saying that anyone on the roads will be arrested. They’re saying that any business that refuses to close will be issued a citation.

How can they do that? When were the police given such broad powers to ignore our right to work and earn a living? What law exists that gives the police such huge powers to prohibit legal commerce? How can this possibly be constitutional. Just because they have a gun doesn’t mean they’re god!

The answer is that police have powers to protect order and the health and safety of citizens. If you being on the roads during a severe snow storm interferes with any of those duties then they can arrest you if that is what is called for by your actions.

If they have to take the time to pull you out of a ditch then that is personnel and time you take away from someone who might really need help somewhere else.

Or if you are on a road that provides the only access to area and you have an accident that blocks that road. You might prevent another person from getting prompt medical care because you just had to earn a living.

The general rule about such powers is asking if the power is reasonable given the circumstances. I think for a Level 3 snow emergency – arresting offenders is a reasonable police power.

One Reply to “Snow Emergencies – An Update”

  1. I Googled snow emergency in Ohio and that's how I got your article. There was a big controversy where I work over just what a Level 3 snow emergency means. There are some rather vicious people here who come to work "no matter what", and I opine that I have plenty of personal and vacation days so what's the diff if I call in? 

    I've got no artificially inflated ideas of my own self-importance, and I'm relatively certain that the world will go on whether I come to work or not…. 

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