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Hochul announces holiday season 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' enforcement initiative


Wed, Dec 13th 2023 05:45 pm

Additional troopers will be deployed on state roads looking for impaired drivers this holiday season

√ Construction-related lane closures limited over Christmas and New Year’s weekends

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the New York State Police will participate in the national enforcement initiative to crack down on impaired driving this holiday season. “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” runs from Wednesday, Dec. 13, through Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.

"Impaired driving is reckless, dangerous and illegal, and we have zero tolerance for it on New York's roadways," Hochul said. “We’re sending a clear message this holiday season that those in violation of our vehicle and traffic laws will be ticketed or face criminal charges.”

In addition to the DWI checkpoints and patrols, troopers will be watching for distracted drivers, vehicle occupants who are not properly buckled up, and drivers violating the “Move Over Law,” which requires motorists to exercise extreme caution when passing emergency vehicles that are stopped in or on the side of the road. State Police will also conduct underage drinker enforcement details statewide.

New York State Police Acting Superintendent Dominick L. Chiumento said, "We wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year! We will be doing our part to ensure the holidays remain safe. Our members will remain vigilant upon your roadways to prevent needless tragedies that result from reckless and impaired driving. Please think twice before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle if you’ve been drinking. If you have had a drink, there are numerous options available that will provide safe passage to your destination. Together, let’s make safety on our roadways a priority this holiday season.”

These traffic enforcement campaigns are funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC), which promotes and supports participation of law enforcement agencies at the state, county and local levels in high-visibility enforcement efforts. Grant funding is intended to provide for supplemental traffic enforcement and engagement during those times of the year, like the holidays, when there is greater potential for drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs to be on the road.

New York State DMV Commissioner and GTSC Chair Mark J.F. Schroeder said, “Getting together with family and friends to celebrate the holidays brings great joy, and it is incumbent on all of us to make sure that we are keeping ourselves and others safe in the process. Have a plan if you know that your celebrations will involve alcohol. It only takes a moment to figure out how to get home safely, and it will spare many moments of heartache and difficulty down the road if you haven’t made that plan.”

Hochul’s team said, “The Have a Plan app can help. The free app from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and the NYS STOP-DWI Foundation allows you to designate a driver, call a cab or ride share, and to review the consequences of impaired driving. You can even use the app to report a drunk or drugged driver. The app is available for Apple, Android and Windows smart phones.”

In an effort to ease travel during the busy holiday weekends, temporary lane closures for road and bridge construction projects on New York state highways will be suspended from 6 a.m. Friday, Dec. 22, through 6 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 26. Construction will also be suspended from 6 a.m. Friday, Dec. 29, through 6 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2, to ease travel for motorists.

Motorists are advised that some work may continue behind permanent concrete barriers for emergency repairs.

The construction suspension aligns with New York state’s “Driver’s First Initiative,” which prioritizes the convenience of motorists to minimize traffic congestion and travel delays due to road and bridge work.

Text stops, including park-and-ride facilities, rest stops, service areas and parking areas along state highways support the state’s effort to reduce distracted driving. The New York State Thruway Authority will also continue its tradition of offering free coffee and hot tea to travelers along the thruway from 11 p.m. New Year’s Eve through 7 a.m. New Year’s morning to promote safety and alert driving.

The Thruway Authority reminds motorists that 12 service areas are closed and under construction as part of the $450 million private investment and modernization project. Fuel services remain open at all locations. Motorists can view the service areas and plan their stops on the Thruway Authority’s website and on the free mobile app.

Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Frank G. Hoare said, “By suspending construction activities, motorists traveling over these busy holiday weekends should see fewer delays. We urge motorists to make safety a priority on their travels. Slow down and ‘Move Over’ for emergency vehicles and thruway personnel responding to incidents; don’t drive distracted; and leave plenty of time for stops. We thank our partners at the New York State Police for patrolling the thruway and keeping motorists and our employees safe.”

NYS DOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “The holiday season is one of the most wonderful times of the year, but for travelers, it can also be one of the most stressful. The Department of Transportation wants to do everything it can to provide a safe and hassle-free journey for motorists, and is suspending construction activities to help ease traffic, as law enforcement agencies focus their efforts on the safety of the traveling public. We wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season – and we urge all those traveling to please do so safely, so that together we can make sure everyone reaches their destination safely.”

During the enforcement campaign, troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and concealed identity traffic enforcement (CITE) vehicles as part of the operation. The CITE vehicles allow troopers to more easily identify motorists who are using handheld devices while driving. CITE vehicles allow the trooper to better observe distracted driving violations. These vehicles blend in with every day traffic, but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated.

During last year’s crackdown, as reported by the GTSC, law enforcement statewide issued 94,372 tickets. Of those tickets, 18,222 were for speeding; 3,028 were for distracted driving; 2,684 were for seatbelts; 472 for the “Move Over Law”; and 3,139 individuals were arrested for impaired driving. In total, 66,827 motorists were ticketed for other infractions.

Hochul’s team said, “If you drive impaired and break the law, you will face consequences and be held accountable. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services data shows that felony and misdemeanor arrests for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs result in a conviction in approximately 90% of cases.”

The New York State Police and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also offer these tips to make the holidays safer for all:

√ Plan a safe way home before the celebrating begins;

√ Before drinking, designate a sober driver;

√ If you’re impaired, use a taxi or ride sourcing service, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation;

√ Use your community’s sober ride program;

√ If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact local law enforcement;

√ If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.

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