Police agencies all across Erie County will be on patrol looking for drunk drivers -- in what's being called -- an "intensive" DWI enforcement campaign."If you're going to drink, especially during the holiday season, do not drive," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said during a Friday morning announcement at Kotecki's Garden Grove in West Seneca.
Poloncarz says police patrols will know what to look for, saying "... if you drink and drive, they are going to catch you before you have an opportunity to ruin someone's life, including potentially your own."
Poloncarz says local police have recorded over 3,000 arrests for DWI so far in 2012, with nearly 600 of those as felony charges. The Erie County departments of health, probation, and central police services are also hoping to improve deterrence through public education.
Several other officials -- including Central Police Services Commissioner John Glascott, Erie County Probation Commissioner Brian McLaughlin, Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein, Capt. Steven Graap, New York State Police Commander Zone A, and Michael Mule, CEO of Designated Drivers of Buffalo -- took part in the anti-DWI message.
Erie County also issued the following press release with the same message:
Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein, Commissioner of Central Police Services John Glascott, Commissioner of Probation Brian McLaughlin, and members of State and local law enforcement at Kotecki’s Garden Grove in West Seneca to emphasize the dangers of drinking and driving during the holiday season.
“We are all saddened by the terrible DWI tragedies we saw in November. Despite the progress we have made, they remind us that more must be done to convince motorists that Driving While Impaired is a dangerous act that puts us all at risk,” said Poloncarz. “So far in 2012, local police agencies, the State Police, and the Sheriff’s office have recorded over 3,000 arrests for DWI; nearly 600 of them were felonies. The apprehension of drunken drivers remains a high priority among law enforcement in Erie County, and I am pleased to announce renewed efforts by our partners in Probation, Health, and the Prevention Community to deliver a comprehensive response to the threat of DWI.”
Police in every corner of Erie County will be out in force through New Year’s Day in an intensive DWI enforcement campaign to prevent traffic crashes and to stop drunken drivers before they hurt others. This initiative combines enforcement with efforts of the Erie County Departments of Health, Probation, and Central Police Services to improve deterrence through public education that accompanies traditional enforcement activity.
Central Police Services Commissioner John Glascott said, “The Division of Central Police services, through the STOP-DWI office, annually provides over one million dollars to assist prosecutors, probation officers and local police agencies to arrest, prosecute and supervise drunken drivers in Erie County. We coordinate these efforts, and enhance them with media, public education, and private partnerships with alcohol retailers and Designated Driver programs. All assistance provided by Central Police Services is derived from fines paid by convicted drunken drivers. Our goal is to convince drivers that DWI is not worth the risk, show them alternatives to drinking after driving, and for those who won’t heed the message, support enforcement to arrest them before they hurt someone.”
“In addition to our regular DWI enforcement focus, State Police in erie county will conduct an underage drinking enforcement detail at area bars, restaurants, and alcohol retailers,” added Captain Steven Graap, Zone Commander for State Police Troop A. “The mix of alcohol and inexperience behind the wheel is the leading cause of death for young drivers. It is illegal to sell alcohol to persons under 21, and both the seller and purchaser are at risk of arrest for doing so. Our effort is attempting to stop danger before it gets on the road.”
Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said, “Deaths and injuries caused by drunken driving are a serious public health issue. Alcohol-impaired drivers are involved in about 1 in 3 crash deaths. Teen drinking and driving is also a substantial public health problem. Nearly one million high school teens drank alcohol and got behind the wheel in 2011. Teen drivers are 3 times more likely than more experienced drivers to be in a fatal crash. Drinking any alcohol greatly increases this risk for teens and teen drivers are at much greater risk of crashing after drinking alcohol than adult drivers..”
“There are currently 1,444 DWI cases under probation supervision in Erie County, and those most at risk of re-offending are supervised by our Felony DWI unit,” said Probation Commissioner Brian McLaughlin. “This unit is composed of experienced, aggressive officers who focus intensively on the probationers under their supervision. These officers will be out in the community on nights and weekends throughout the holiday period making unannounced home calls, breathalyzing probationers, and checking for unauthorized vehicles. Our collaboration with STOP-DWI, which provides both significant funding and expertise, makes this unit possible.”
Michael Mule, CEO of Designated Drivers of Buffalo, added, “Thousands of people in Erie County are affected by drinking and driving each and every year. We are excited to partner with Erie County to help raise awareness of our life-saving service. We simply offer a no excuse solution to drinking and driving by providing our customers with a safe ride home in the comfort and convenience of their own vehicles. This ensures that they never again have to risk drinking and driving just because they want their car home at the end of the night.”
For more information:
On the Erie County Department of Health, visit http://www2.erie.gov/health/
On the Erie County STOP-DWI Program, visit http://www.erie.gov/stopdwi/
On the Erie County Probation Department, visit http://www2.erie.gov/probation/