The County Sheriff may, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code Sections 311.07 and 311.08, declare a snow emergency and temporarily close all or certain highways, roads and streets within his 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, concludes that this authority includes all federal and state highways, 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 temporary closing highways, roads and/or streets within his jurisdiction, may be subject to criminal prosecution under Ohio Revised Code Section 2917.13, “Misconduct at an Emergency.” A violation under this section is a minor misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $100. If the misconduct creates a risk of physical harm to persons or property, it is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, punishable by a jail sentence not to exceed thirty days and/or a fine not to exceed $250.
There are three levels of snow emergency classifications
LEVEL 1: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be icy. Drive carefully.
LEVEL 2: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. 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.
LEVEL 3: All roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. No one else should be out 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.
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 331.07 and Revised Code 311.08, 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.
2917.13. Misconduct at emergency
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, riot, 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.
Medina County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security
555 Independence Dr
Medina, OH 44256
Phone: (330) 722-9240
Fax: (330) 764-8455