Saratoga County

Police aim to crack down on DWI, distracted driving during holidays

There will be extra police patrols looking for drunken or drugged driving across the county at Thank
PHOTOGRAPHER:

There will be extra police patrols looking for drunken or drugged driving across the county at Thanksgiving and also over a three-week “holiday” period in December, Saratoga County law-enforcement officials said Monday.

The county STOP-DWI program will pay overtime to put extra patrols on the road in Saratoga Springs and elsewhere from Nov. 26-30, and then at times from Dec. 12 through Jan. 1.

Police will be looking for drunken or drug-impaired drivers, but also just providing an increased police presence on the streets, said county STOP-DWI Coordinator Robert Murphy.

“We feel that during the holiday season many people come visiting, shopping. It’s a busy time,” he said after Monday’s meeting of the county Traffic Safety Committee in Ballston Spa. “A lot of people from out of town come here.”

The Thanksgiving weekend is generally a busy time for bars and restaurants, with college students visiting home and other social gatherings where alcohol may be consumed. Similarly, the holiday-party season associated with Christmas and New Year’s Eve starts early in December, officials have noted in the past.

This year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is planning a “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” advertising campaign for Dec. 12 through Jan. 1, and encouraging all states to participate.

The NHTSA says it aims its campaign at 18- to 34-year-old males, which research shows is the demographic most likely to drive drunk.

The Prevention Council of Saratoga Springs, a private drug and alcohol abuse prevention organization, is planning a social media campaign during December, said Robin Lyle, the council’s coalition development director.

In New York, the money for additional police patrols comes from STOP-DWI funds, which come from fines collected from people convicted of drunken driving offenses.

State police are also planning DWI checkpoints for New Year’s Eve and assigning unmarked vehicles to enforcement of DWI and distracted driving laws during the holiday period. Distracted driving covers the use of cellphones or texting while driving.

Murphy said the county police agencies will decide in early December when and where to have DWI checkpoints around the holidays.

Much of the activity is likely to take place in and around Saratoga Springs, with its concentration of nightlife that attracts people from all over the Capital Region.

The last county-supported DWI crackdown was over the Halloween weekend. Saratoga Springs police made five DWI arrests that weekend, said city traffic enforcement coordinator Sgt. Andrew Prestigiacomo.

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