Christmas Eve: Remember, police patrols on the road looking for impaired driving

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(New York) – State police and local law enforcement agencies throughout New York have stepped up patrols on Christmas Eve to target impaired driving. The high visibility engagement campaign runs through Saturday, January 1.

This campaign is part of the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” initiative designed to reduce alcohol and drug-related traffic crashes. It is sponsored by STOP-DWI with funding from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC).

During the 2020 holiday season, law enforcement throughout the state arrested 2,067 people for impaired driving. In total, 70,878 tickets were issued for vehicle and traffic law violations.

A major component of New York’s efforts to combat impaired driving is the STOP-DWI program. STOP-DWI stands for “Special Traffic Options Program for Driving While Intoxicated.” The program’s efforts are funded from fines paid by convicted impaired drivers.

The STOP-DWI program was created to empower counties to coordinate local efforts to reduce alcohol and other drug-related traffic crashes. All 62 counties in New York participate. Some examples of programs funded by STOP-DWI are: specially trained police units dedicated to DWI enforcement, hiring of special prosecutors and probation officers to handle the caseload, monitoring ignition interlock devices, supporting rehabilitation services, and developing public information and education campaigns tailored to communities within their respective regions.

In addition to STOP-DWI, the GTSC supports training for Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). DREs are specially trained officers utilized by law enforcement when a driver appears to be impaired, but police have ruled out alcohol as the cause or sole cause of impairment. A DRE receives extensive training that has been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The training allows officers to observe and document signs and indicators of impairment within each of seven drug categories including illicit and prescription drugs.