State Police to increase impaired driving patrols

Mar. 16—Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday, March 16, that State Police and local law enforcement will increase patrols to combat drunk, impaired and reckless driving as St. Patrick's Day celebrations get underway starting this weekend. This special traffic enforcement detail will begin Friday, March 17, and run through Sunday, March 19.

Drivers can expect to encounter additional DWI patrols and sobriety checkpoints during the enforcement period. State Police will also be ticketing distracted drivers who are using handheld electronic devices and will conduct checks at retail establishments targeting underage drinking and unlawful sales to minors during the campaign, according to a media release from Hochul's office.

"Our message is clear; if you're planning on celebrating St. Patrick's Day with alcohol, make plans for a safe ride home," Hochul said. "The tragedies caused by impaired driving are completely preventable if we all put safety first. We have zero tolerance for impaired driving, and I thank our State Police and local law enforcement who will be out in force all weekend."

During last year's St. Patrick's Day impaired driving enforcement, troopers arrested 381 people for DWI, issued 754 tickets for distracted driving and 26,594 tickets in total, the release said.

The release reminded drivers that drinking and driving can result in face jail time, the loss of a drivers license, a higher insurance rate, and dozens of unanticipated expenses. Charges related to impaired driving carry fines of up to $10,000.

State Police and the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee ask drivers to commit to following steps to help keep roads safe this St. Patrick's day:

* Before the festivities begin, plan a way to safely get home at the end of the night.

* Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave car keys at home.

* If impaired, use a taxi or ridesharing service, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.

* If available, use a community sober ride program.

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

* Call local law enforcement if a drunk driver is seen on the road.

The GTSC and the STOP-DWI Foundation's "Have a Plan" mobile app is 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 report a suspected impaired driver, the release says.