ALBANY — New York State Police this weekend are working with local law enforcement agencies in a special traffic safety initiative to prevent unsafe driving behaviors as the holiday season begins.
Throughout this weekend, commuters may notice more troopers supplemented by dedicated impaired driving patrols. The additional patrols will including drug recognition experts, fixed sobriety checkpoints, underage drinking enforcement, speed enforcement, and the use of Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) patrol vehicles, according to a state police release Wednesday.
“Troopers will be highly visible throughout the Thanksgiving weekend and on the lookout for impaired and reckless drivers,” State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen said. “Please follow posted speed limits, put down your mobile phone, and make sure to slow down and move over for emergency and highway maintenance vehicles.”
Local residents may notice a similar increased police presence as they drive throughout the area this weekend, according to Oswego County Stop DWI Coordinator Alex Kurilovitch. He said local agencies through Sunday would be involved in the statewide initiative, adding that STOP-DWI coordinators would also participate in the special efforts to bring awareness to the dangers of impaired driving during the Thanksgiving holiday period.
“Thanksgiving time is one of the busiest travel times of the year,” said Kurilovitch. “State police, county sheriffs, municipal law enforcement agencies and local STOP-DWI programs will collaborate across the state and will be out in force in this coordinated effort to reduce the number of impaired driving-related injuries and deaths.”
The STOP-DWI Thanksgiving campaign is one of many statewide initiatives promoted by STOP-DWI NY and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GSTC). The campaign also targets Memorial Day, July 4, Halloween, Labor Day, the Christmas holiday season, Super Bowl weekend and St. Patrick’s Day.
“Highly visible, highly publicized efforts like the STOP-DWI High Visibility Engagement Campaign aim to further reduce the incidence of drunk and impaired driving,” Kurilovitch said.
According to authorities, Thanksgiving weekend traditionally has a higher traffic volume as commuters relocate for the holiday. It is also a time when alcohol consumption is widespread, authorities said.
During the 2020 Thanksgiving holiday period, troopers arrested 155 drivers for DWI and issued 4,871 speeding tickets and 228 tickets for distracted driving.
Statewide, law enforcement arrested 901 people for DWI and issued 7,406 tickets for speeding and 627 tickets for distracted driving, according to police.
The GTSC funds the Thanksgiving impaired driving enforcement initiative and, along with the state STOP-DWI Foundation, urges residents to use their “Have a Plan” mobile app available for smartphones.
The app enables New Yorkers to locate and call a taxi or rideshare service and program a designated driver list. It also provides information on DWI laws and penalties, and provides a way to report a suspected impaired driver.
“You can help to make a difference by having a ‘sober plan!’ Download our mobile app and you will always be able to find a safe ride home. Impaired driving is completely preventable,” Kurilovitch said. “All it takes is a little planning.”
A person charged with impaired driving could face arrest, jail time, and substantial fines and attorney fees that average up to $10,000, according to police.
Those drivers additionally face the loss of their driver’s license, higher insurance rates, and dozens of unanticipated expenses from attorney fees, fines and court costs, car towing and repairs and lost time at work.
“Our goal is to ensure that everyone gets to their holiday celebrations safety,” Bruen said.