LarkFest effort aims to cut DWIs

Albany County sheriff’s deputies and volunteers will be out at LarkFest later this month looking for

Albany County sheriff’s deputies and volunteers will be out at LarkFest later this month looking for intoxicated individuals.

They’ll be doing it, Sheriff Craig Apple said, to make sure they have a safe ride home.

If the individuals don’t, they’ll give them one — in the form of a voucher for a cab ride.

It’s part of a new program that began at the start of the year through the Albany County STOP-DWI program aimed at encouraging designated drivers.

One part provides free non-alcoholic drinks at events to designated drivers. The other part essentially provides the designated driver through the cab voucher.

“Anything we can do to keep them off the roadway,” Apple said Thursday.

LarkFest won’t be the first time the program has been run. It’s actually been in place since the first of the year, with the slogan “Don’t Hesitate to Designate,” Apple said.

The program is another twist on long-running similar programs, like law firm Martin, Harding & Mazzotti’s cab program largely tied to holidays.

Program officials worked to highlight the new effort Thursday to make more people aware that it’s there.

So far this year, more than 2,500 people have signed up for the free non-alcoholic beverage part of the program. Individuals who commit to being the designated driver sign up for the non-alcoholic beverages and get a bracelet and a bottle of water.

So far, 138 ride vouchers have been given out, Apple said. He hopes that with more publicity, that number will increase.

The vouchers not only cover the ride home but also the ride back to get their cars in the morning.

At LarkFest, volunteers and deputies will be at a STOP-DWI booth. They also will walk around the crowds looking for individuals who could benefit from the program. The booths also have educational information and giveaways.

STOP-DWI co-sponsors the initiative with DeCrescente Distributing, Aramark at the Times Union Center, the city of Albany and participating bars and restaurants, with the cab rides and drinks covered through the sponsors.

The goal, Apple said, is to eliminate drunken driving. Last year in Albany County, a total of 1,315 individuals were arrested for drunken driving.

“The goal is to get that number to zero,” Apple said.

No one arrested this year has been found with an unused cab voucher, Apple said.

In Schenectady County, Sheriff Dominic Dagostino on Thursday said he heard about the Albany County program this week. He said he’s interested in researching the program with the aim of possibly bringing it to Schenectady County.

Categories: Schenectady County

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