Press release from governor.ny.gov.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced that state and local law enforcement agencies throughout New York will be stepping up patrols targeting impaired driving during the holiday travel season. The high visibility engagement campaign runs from Friday, December 17 through Saturday, January 1. This campaign is part of the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” initiative designed to reduce alcohol and drug-related traffic crashes. It is sponsored by STOP-DWI with funding from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC).
“The holiday season is when friends and family come together to celebrate, and we are committed to making road travel as safe as possible during this time,” Governor Hochul said. “As you travel throughout the holiday season, do the right thing and plan ahead for a safe ride home — it only takes one mistake for someone to get hurt.”
To kick off the campaign, a press event was held today at Destiny USA Mall in Syracuse. GTSC and Department of Motor Vehicles officials were joined by the New York State Office of Cannabis Management and state and local law enforcement. Following the event, shoppers had an opportunity to wear specialized goggles that demonstrate the effects of drug and alcohol impairment and to better understand how a person’s ability to drive is impacted by using drugs or alcohol.
During the 2020 holiday season initiative, law enforcement throughout the state arrested 2,067 people for impaired driving. In total, 70,878 tickets were issued for vehicle and traffic law violations. Full breakdown here:
DMV Commissioner and Chair of the GTSC Mark J.F. Schroeder said, “The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee proudly supports these enforcement campaigns that help ensure safety on our roads. I also thank our law enforcement and STOP-DWI officials for their commitment to combatting impaired driving.”
New York State STOP-DWI Chairman and Niagara County Sheriff’s Office Captain Robert Richards said, “The holiday season is about family and friends- not impaired driving. Think about them before getting behind the wheel. Download our Have a Plan mobile app today and plan for a safe outing!”
New York State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, “Every year there are needless tragedies and victims left behind because of drug or alcohol impaired drivers. Through education and enforcement, the New York State Police work to keep these drivers off the road. Through campaigns like Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, we remind people of the dangers of drinking and driving. Together, we can keep New York State’s roads among the safest in the nation.”
NYS Association of Chiefs of Police President, Ilion P.D. Chief, Timothy Parisi said, “I encourage all of our association members to actively participate in this critically important statewide high visibility enforcement campaign. We share a unified goal in partnership with local, county and state law enforcement personnel to detect and remove impaired drivers from our roadways and to make our communities as safe as possible during this holiday season.”
Columbia County Sheriff and President of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association David Bartlett said, “When you drive impaired you are making a deadly choice…a choice that can hurt you, your passengers, and other people on the road. Impaired driving is dangerous and illegal. The Sheriffs of New York State want you to enjoy this holiday season but in a smart way by having a plan to not drive impaired.”
A major component of New York’s efforts to combat impaired driving is the STOP-DWI program. STOP-DWI stands for “Special Traffic Options Program for Driving While Intoxicated.” The state’s STOP-DWI program is the nation’s first self-sustaining impaired driving program. The program’s efforts are funded from fines paid by convicted impaired drivers. Importantly, the program’s coordinators are comprised of diverse professional backgrounds, including law enforcement and non-law enforcement.
The STOP-DWI program was created to empower counties to coordinate local efforts to reduce alcohol and other drug-related traffic crashes. All 62 counties have opted to participate. Some examples of programs funded by STOP-DWI are: specially trained police units dedicated to DWI enforcement, hiring of special prosecutors and probation officers to handle the caseload, monitoring ignition interlock devices, supporting rehabilitation services, and developing public information and education campaigns tailored to communities within their respective regions. To learn more, visit http://www.stopdwi.org/.
In addition to STOP-DWI, the GTSC supports training for Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). DREs are specially trained officers utilized by law enforcement when a driver appears to be impaired, but police have ruled out alcohol as the cause or sole cause of impairment. A DRE receives extensive training that has been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The training allows officers to observe and document signs and indicators of impairment within each of seven drug categories including illicit and prescription drugs.