Saratoga County

Superbowl weekend DWI sweep planned

Police agencies in the county are planning a drunk driving crackdown on Superbowl weekend, and dr

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Police agencies in the county are planning a drunk driving crackdown on Superbowl weekend, and drivers generally should be paying more attention to whether they have buckled their seat belts.

The county Traffic Safety Committee on Monday decided there will be additional police patrols across the county on the weekend of the Superbowl, which will be Feb. 3.

“Statistics show it’s a big time for drinking and driving,” said state police Sgt. Dan Larkin, one of the agency’s traffic safety specialists.

Every police agency in the county will be authorized to spend an additional 16 hours of overtime that weekend, to be reimbursed from the county’s STOP-DWI program.

“We always put on extra people for Superbowl Sunday,” said Sgt. William Crandall of the Saratoga Springs Police Department, who is chairman of the Traffic Safety Committee.

The STOP-DWI program, which is funded by fines paid by people convicted of drunk driving offenses, tries to provide funding for a crackdown every month, said Bob Murphy, the county’s STOP-DWI coordinator.

Meeting in Ballston Spa, committee members also agreed more needs to be done to enforce the state’s mandatory seat belt use law.

Larkin said newly released state Department of Motor Vehicles statistics for 2006 show the number of people in fatal or personal injury accidents in the county who aren’t belted-in is rising.

“We need to get our officers every day to go out and write those tickets,” Larkin said.

The state has a “Click It or Ticket” enforcement campaign, but outside the campaign period tickets aren’t being written for seat belt violations, police said.

According to the DMV, about 75 percent of the people involved in injury accidents statewide in 2006, either drivers or passengers, were buckled in.

Police say the figure needs to be higher.

Mechanicville Police Chief Joe Waldron said he’s talked to a DMV deputy commissioner and the Federal Highway Administration about his concern that there needs to be more seat belt enforcement.

Bills now pending in the state Legislature would require that all occupants, including those in the back seats, wear seat belts, said Cynthia Dort, traffic safety program leader for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County.

Current law requires only front-seat occupants and children age 16 and younger to be seat-belted.

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