Statewide enforcement campaign
Through March 7, almost 300 drivers have been arrested for impaired driving in Erie County
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz announced Erie County law enforcement will participate in a statewide DWI enforcement effort this weekend. Local, county and state police agencies in Erie County will combine efforts to conduct sobriety checkpoints and perform roving patrols.
A press release stated, “This week marks the one-year anniversary of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a reduction in impaired driving arrests as residents sheltered at home and drinking venues restricted hours of operation.”
Poloncarz said, “We want the public to know that impaired driving enforcement will coincide with increased traffic and warmer weather. Individuals who are in no condition to drive should make alternative plans to get home, keeping themselves and everyone else on the road safer.”
Erie County Central Police Services Commissioner James Jancewicz noted that, early in 2020, impaired driving arrests fell to 20% of pre-COVID-19 levels. The current anti-DWI effort and those to come are intended to maintain the momentum of less-impaired driving and preempt an increase in crashes.
Jancewicz said, “Police agencies welcomed the reduction in impaired driving and particularly the reduction in impaired driving crashes. However, impaired driving still represents a danger to Erie County residents and police agencies at all levels will continue to emphasize enforcement in an attempt to prevent the next tragedy.”
The Erie County STOP-DWI Office is coordinating this weekend’s activity, joining other New York counties and the Erie County Chiefs of Police Association, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Police, and the Erie County Department of Emergency Services in the statewide effort around St. Patrick’s Day.
John Sullivan, director of the Erie County STOP-DWI Office, noted arrests have rebounded to around 50% of pre-COVID-19 levels and that the pandemic has also altered the profile of the typical impaired driver in Erie County.
“Records show an increase in the average blood alcohol level, the mix of male vs. female drivers being arrested, and the percentage of drivers impaired by substances other than alcohol,” he said. “Even the average time of day was affected. Still, regular, highly visible enforcement remains our best deterrent.”
For more information on the Erie County STOP-DWI office, visit https://www.stopdwi.org/initiatives-Erie.