Each holiday season, from mid-December through Jan. 1, New York law enforcement agencies increase their presence on our roads to catch drunk drivers. Enhanced DWI enforcement during the holidays is a local, state, and national effort.
“The holiday season is when friends and family come together to celebrate, and we are committed to making road travel as safe as possible during this time,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “As you travel throughout the holiday season, do the right thing and plan ahead for a safe ride home — it only takes one mistake for someone to get hurt.”
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over
The high-visibility enforcement campaign is from Dec. 17, 2021, through Jan. 1, 2022. The New York campaign coincides with the national initiative of the U.S. Department of Transportation. While impaired driving is a central focus of the enhanced enforcement, other driving infractions are also targeted in the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.
The following violations were issued statewide during the December 2020 holiday campaign:
- Impaired Driving: 2,067
- Distracted Driving: 1,605
- Move Over Law: 475
- Seatbelt: 1,983
- Speeding: 17,354
- Other Violations: 47,394
Enhanced enforcement is part of STOP-DWI: Special Traffic Options Program for Driving While Intoxicated. The program, funded from fines paid by convicted impaired drivers, empowers counties to coordinate local efforts to reduce drunk and drugged driving.
Examples of other programs funded by STOP-DWI include:
- 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
- Developing public information and education campaigns tailored to communities within their respective regions
Drunk-Driving Capital of New York
Drivers in Suffolk and Nassau counties should take special note: Long Island is called the drunk-driving capital of New York. These two counties often have more alcohol-related crashes than all other counties in the state. Undoubtedly, law enforcement will be out in force.
All 62 New York counties are participating in the enhanced enforcement period. Suffolk County police will increase patrols, for example, by using officers and auxiliary police in traffic safety stops (sobriety checkpoints). Law enforcement will also be on foot, on a bicycle, and in plain clothes.
Too Many People Drive Under the Influence
Alcohol is not the only means by which a driver is impaired. In 2021, New York legalized recreational marijuana for those 21 years or older, but that right comes with responsibility. Just like consuming too much alcohol leads to impaired driving, so does too much weed (or other drugs).
Unfortunately, nearly 70% of Americans believe it’s unlikely they will get caught by police while driving high. Those using drugs or alcohol misjudge how impaired they are. Some people also may have a false sense of security. It’s estimated that 300,000 people drive intoxicated daily yet only 4,000 are arrested. Those who use both alcohol and marijuana are among the most dangerous drivers.
Statistics tell the story. Too many Americans die each day because of impaired driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one person dies every 52 minutes in a drunk-driving crash. About one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the U.S. involve drunk drivers.
.08 Isn’t the Only Magic Number
Most people know that .08 is the blood alcohol content (BAC) for DWI (Driving While Impaired) but penalties begin at a lower level. DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol) is evidenced by a BAC between .05 and .07. A driver younger than 21 with a BAC of as low as .02 is guilty of violating the Zero Tolerance Law. Those with a BAC of .18 or higher can be charged with Aggravate DWI.
DWAI/Alcohol and DWAI/Drugs can be charged with other evidence of impairment, not just BAC.
Evidence of impairment that law enforcement may include:
- Breath alcohol test
- Interview with arresting officer (who notes slurred speech, alcohol on breath, etc.)
- Preliminary evaluation
- Evaluation of the eyes
- Psychomotor tests
- Vital signs
- Muscle tone
Fines and jail time can be up to $10,000 and 10 years. A driver’s license can be revoked permanently.
Experienced Legal Defense for DWI Charges
DWI and DWAI are serious matters with significant consequences. Beyond the fines and possible jail, a conviction will carry a lifelong stain on your reputation. Your ability to get a job, get accepted into college, or obtain housing can all be affected. Relationships can be damaged forever.
If you are arrested on suspicion of DWI or DWAI, do not speak to police before hiring an attorney. At Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC, our lawyers are former prosecutors who can leverage that experience and their extensive knowledge of the law.
Call (516) 218-5131 or submit our online form. Your initial consultation is at no cost.