Officials announce latest statewide STOP-DWI effort

ALBANY David J. Swarts, Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles and Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC); James F. May, Chairman of New York State STOP-DWI Association; Harry J. Corbitt, Superintendent of the State Police; John P. Grebert, Executive Director of the Chiefs of Police Association; and Peter R. Kehoe, Executive Director of the New York State Sheriffs Association announced today that the latest 2008 STOP-DWI enforcement effort is underway statewide. The STOP-DWI crackdown on impaired driving during the Fourth of July holiday period began on June 27 and continues through July 6, with an emphasis on the holiday weekend. Law enforcement agencies will be out in force statewide to deter impaired driving and ensure the safety of our roadways. In 2006, 41 percent of motor vehicle fatalities nationwide were alcohol related, and 38 percent of total fatalities in New York involved one driver with a blood alcohol content level of .08 or higher. "Although New York has a good record when it comes to impaired driving prevention, too many people become needless victims because of crashes caused by drunk or impaired drivers," Commissioner Swarts said. "STOP-DWI efforts are critical to reducing the number of alcohol related fatalities and injuries, and I commend the law enforcement community for their steadfast commitment to ensuring the safety of all motorists across New York State." "The STOP-DWI Association is pleased to join the New York State County Sheriffs, the Chiefs of Police, the State Police and the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee in helping to make the 4th of July Holiday safe for all New Yorkers," said James F. May, Chairman of the STOP-DWI Association. "The STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign serves to remind everyone not to get behind the wheel of a car if they've been drinking and that law enforcement will find and arrest those that don't heed this warning. We hope this STOP-DWI Crackdown effort will save lives and make the 4th of July safe for everyone." "We always expect greater traffic volume over the July 4th Holiday Weekend, and so should every driver," said State Police Superintendent Harry J. Corbitt. "Unfortunately, when the traffic increases so does the potential for crashes, so all motorists should make sure they obey speed limits, drink non-alcoholic beverages if they are driving, and buckle up everyone in the car. Those that don't should expect flashing lights in their rear view mirror, because troopers will be out in force looking for them and other drivers like them, who choose to jeopardize the safety of our roads this weekend. We're committed to keeping the roads safe, and we ask the same of you." "The 4th of July holiday weekend is an occasion when many of us celebrate and share good times with our friends and families, but it is also one of the deadliest weekends on our nation's highways," said John Grebert, Executive Director of the State Association of Chiefs of Police. "Each year thousands of lives are lost as a result of motorists operating their vehicles while their ability is impaired. Targeted enforcement, public information and education are the keys to combating impaired driving and deterring this behavior. This effort will save lives and improve safety on our highways." Peter R. Kehoe, Executive Director of the State Sheriffs' Association said, "The 4th of July is a traditional time for family picnics, fireworks and summer fun. To insure that we all enjoy a safe holiday, the deputy sheriffs of New York will be especially vigilant this weekend to keep our streets and highways free of those who choose to endanger all of us by drinking and driving. Deputies will work in cooperation with the State Police and officers from municipal police departments to identify and arrest those motorists who drive while impaired by alcohol or other drugs." The Fourth of July effort is the third of six major STOP-DWI Crackdowns targeting popular celebration weekends during 2008. The first was during the weekend of the Super Bowl from January 28-February 4, followed by the St. Patrick's Day effort from March 14-18. Other crackdown periods this year include: August 13-September 2, for Labor Day; October 24-November 2, for Halloween; and November 21-January 1, 2009, for the Thanksgiving through New Year's holiday season. While these crackdowns have a positive impact, it is important to remember that every 30 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies in an alcohol-related crash. There has also been an alarming upward trend in impaired driving-related fatalities from 382 in 2004 to 397 in 2006, which represents a 4 percent increase statewide. STOP-DWI, which stands for "Special Traffic Options Program for Driving While Intoxicated," was enacted to coordinate local efforts to reduce alcohol and other drug-related crashes in a comprehensive and financially self-sustaining highway safety program. The STOP-DWI program permits each of the state's counties to establish a STOP-DWI Program that qualifies for the return of all fines collected for alcohol and other drug-related traffic offenses occurring within its jurisdiction. All 62 counties are participating, and each appoints a STOP-DWI Coordinator to work with agencies involved in alcohol and highway safety. Although the development and implementation of STOP-DWI programs rests with the counties, the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles is responsible for approving county STOP-DWI plans. Driver safety tips and information are available by visiting the DMV's web site (www.nysdmv.com) or the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee web site (www.safeny.com)

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