Governor Kathy Hochul has issued a proclamation designating December as STOP-DWI Month and announced a series of targeted initiatives to prevent impaired driving across the state. Throughout December, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee will launch a new anti-drinking and driving Public Service Announcement. GTSC will also launch a $1 million ‘Don’t Drive High’ public awareness campaign, which will use funding from the New York State Office of Cannabis Management.

“New York has zero tolerance for impaired driving, a reckless decision that puts everyone sharing the road in danger,” Governor Hochul said. “It’s simple: celebrate and drive responsibly or have a plan in place to get home safely. My administration will continue to crack down on reckless driving to protect New Yorkers on the road.”

Along with its partners at the New York State Restaurant Association and Empire State Tavern Association, GTSC will work to distribute stickers with safe driving messaging to be used on to-go drinks at bars and restaurants statewide, and GTSC has placed safe driving messages on electronic jukeboxes to encourage responsible driving. GTSC and STOP-DWI will also sponsor the ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ impaired driving enforcement campaign from December 15 to January 1. During that time, law enforcement officers statewide will be stepping up patrols.

The campaign kicked off today at McGeary’s Irish Pub in Albany, where GTSC and New York State Department of Motor Vehicles officials were joined by the New York State Police, New York State Office of Cannabis Management, New York State Liquor Authority, New York State STOP-DWI Foundation, Albany County Sheriff’s Office, Albany City Police Department, New York State Restaurant Association and Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association.

These latest measures to eradicate impaired driving in New York build upon the State’s ongoing efforts to address this issue. Together with the State Liquor Authority, State Police, and local law enforcement, the DMV oversees Operation Prevent, an enforcement initiative that helps prevent underage drinking and the sale of alcohol to minors. Operation Prevent details are conducted at bars, restaurants, and concert venues throughout the year. This summer alone, 580 fake IDs were seized, a total of 505 tickets were issued for attempting to use fake IDs to purchase alcohol, and another 46 tickets were issued for violations of the Alcohol Beverage and Control Law.

In addition, the GTSC supports training for Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). DREs are called when a driver appears to be impaired, but police have ruled out alcohol as the cause or sole cause of impairment. A DRE receives extensive training that has been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The training allows officers to observe and document signs and indicators of impairment within each of seven drug categories including illicit and prescription drugs. As of October, there were 411 DREs across the state.

Another major component of New York’s efforts to combat impaired driving is the STOP-DWI program. STOP-DWI stands for “Special Traffic Options Program for Driving While Intoxicated.” The State’s STOP-DWI program is funded from fines paid by convicted impaired drivers. Importantly, the program’s coordinators are comprised of diverse professional backgrounds, including law enforcement and non-law enforcement.

The STOP-DWI program was created to empower counties to coordinate local efforts to reduce alcohol and other drug-related traffic crashes. All 62 counties have opted to participate. Some examples of programs funded by STOP-DWI are dedicating specially trained police units to DWI enforcement, hiring special prosecutors and probation officers to handle the caseload, monitoring ignition interlock devices, supporting rehabilitation services, and developing public information and education campaigns tailored to communities within their respective regions. To learn more, visit stopdwi.org/.