Police step up DWI enforcement for St. Patrick’s weekend

ALBANY — New York State Police and local law enforcement will conduct special enforcement efforts designed to deter drinking and driving during St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

The traffic enforcement detail, which is funded through the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, runs through Sunday. Drivers can expect sobriety checkpoints, additional DWI patrols, and stings targeting underage drinking and illegal sales of alcohol to minors during the campaign. State police will also ticket distracted drivers who use handheld electronic devices.

St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest holidays due to the number of drunk drivers on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period from 2012 to 2016 saw the loss of 269 lives due to drunk-driving crashes. In 2016 alone, 60 people, 39 percent of all crash fatalities, were killed in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period. Between midnight and 5:59 a.m. on March 18, 2016, 69 percent of crash fatalities nationwide involved a drunk driver.

Drunk driving kills more than 10,000 people each year in the U.S. One person every 53 minutes dies of an alcohol related crash.

Those convicted of driving while intoxicated face jail time, a maximum fine of $10,000, the loss of their driver’s license, a higher insurance rate and other unanticipated expenses.

The New York State Police, Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend the following tips:

¯ Before the festivities begin, plan a way to safely get home at the end of the night. Designate a sober driver, and leave your car keys at home.

¯ If you’re impaired, use a taxi or ride-sharing service, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely.

¯ If available, use your community’s sober ride program. In Tupper Lake, you can call Mac’s Safe Ride at 518-304-3282 for a free ride home.

¯ Walking impaired can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Designate a sober friend to walk you home.

¯ If you see a drunk driver on the road, call local law enforcement.

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and the New York State STOP-DWI Foundation’s “Have a Plan” mobile app is free and available for Apple, Android and Windows smartphones. The app enables New Yorkers to locate and call a taxi service and program a designated driver list. It also provides information on DWI laws and penalties, and a way to even report a suspected impaired driver.