32 arrests in drunken driving sweep stun county officials
ALBANY Albany County officials say they are stunned by the number of people who were arrested on driving while intoxicated charges Thursday evening during a series of sobriety checkpoints.
Beginning at 9:30 p.m., police checkpoints were set up in Menands, Colonie, Coeymans and Guilderland.
A total of 32 people were charged with DWI over a four-hour period, said Chief Deputy Craig Apple of the Albany County Sheriff’s Department.
“It’s the highest I can recall. We have done a number of sobriety checkpoints and have never had such a high number in such a short time,” said Apple.
Of the individuals arrested, some face felonies and many had “extremely high blood alcohol content” levels, the majority double the legal limit of 0.08 percent, according to Apple.
District Attorney David Soares, whose office coordinated the crackdown with state, sheriff’s department and local police agencies, said on Friday the number concerns him and he is looking at events where alcohol is being sold.
Even though signs were up notifying people of police sobriety checkpoints, one man drove up with a large open can of beer between his legs. A woman who was arrested had her children in the car with her.
Apple said he’s not sure why there were so many arrests and he hopes it was an anomaly. “I hate to think it’s a nightly occurrence or weekly occurrence. Thirty-two is a high number of arrests for four hours. Usually we don’t get 32 in four days.”
Thousands of people converged on Albany on Thursday evening for the free Alive at Five music series, where wine and beer is sold. The outdoor programs concluded for the season on Thursday.
Coolers and glass containers cannot be brought into the event and to purchase alcohol, patrons must show identification.
Apple said he doesn’t want to point at Alive at Five as the reason for the arrests, but said all large gatherings and venues that sell alcohol should be re-evaluated. He said organizers need to step up and take measures to help stop driving while intoxicated because it puts everyone at risk.
He said at Albany’s First Night organizers used to contract with cab companies to reduce rates or he suggested getting a designated driver.
Checkpoints were set up on Broadway in Menands. at two locations along Route 5 in Colonie, including one near the Schenectady line and one at Fuller Road. Other checkpoints were set up on Route 20 at Route 155 in Guilderland, Route 9 in Bethlehem and Route 9W in Coeymans.