Law enforcement to increase patrols

FULTON COUNTY — Law enforcement will be on the lookout for impaired drivers through New Year’s Day, stepping up patrols from now through the holiday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that state police will increase patrols on impaired driving statewide through Tuesday as part of the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

“As we approach the New Year, state police will be out in full force to crack down on impaired drivers and keep our roadways safe,” Cuomo said in a prepared statement. “We urge all drivers to use extreme caution on the roads and make responsible choices to avoid senseless tragedies.”

Through Tuesday drivers can expect to see sobriety checkpoints and more troopers on roadways watching for distracted drivers, seat belt use and drivers violating the “Move Over Law” that requires motorists to exercise caution when passing emergency vehicles.

During the campaign, troopers will be using both marked state police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement vehicles that allow troopers to better observe distracted drivers and more easily identify drivers who are using handheld devices. Unmarked CITE vehicles blend in with everyday traffic, but are unmistakable when emergency lights are activated.

During last year’s campaign that ran from Dec. 15 through Jan. 1, state police issued 40,489 tickets with more than 13,394 for speeding, 1,268 for distracted driving and 571 for violations of the “Move Over Law.” Additionally, 645 people were arrested for DWI and 10 people were killed in automobile accidents.

The traffic enforcement campaign to make roadways safer during the holidays is funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.

Locally, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department and the Gloversville Police Department will also be participating in the statewide and national campaigns against impaired driving through increased DWI patrols from now through Tuesday.

“It’s a busy time of year,” Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino said Friday. “We are going to have extra patrols out and caution people, don’t drink and drive. Get a designated driver.”

Lt. Brad Schaffer of the Gloversville Police Department Friday said officers have been participating in extra DWI crackdown shifts since Dec. 13 and will continue through Tuesday.

“Funding is provided for extra staffing, the sole purpose is related to identifying impaired drivers and DWI enforcement,” Schaffer said of the funding issued for holiday enforcement by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and NY STOP-DWI.

Both Giardino and Schaffer reminded area residents to be safe while celebrating this year, advising those who plan to consume alcohol to designate a sober driver before the festivities begin or to utilize local transportation including local cabs, ride sharing services or the New Year’s Eve Free Taxi Ride Program sponsored by the Fulton County Traffic Safety Board.

The Fulton County Traffic Safety Board has contracted Glove City Taxi this year to provide safe rides directly home to residents anywhere in Fulton County from parties or bars on Tuesday from midnight to 4 a.m.

“We encourage people to be safe and utilize those other resources that are available,” Schaffer said.

The free ride program, run through the county’s STOP-DWI Program administered by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, has provided safe rides home to thousands of New Year’s Eve partiers over the last 25 years, helping to prevent many potential drinking and driving accidents.

“I want to wish people a Happy New Year and a safe new year,” Giardino said. “We’re urging people to drink responsibly, don’t drink and drive.”

Fulton County residents who choose to celebrate the new year while consuming alcohol can utilize the New Year’s Eve Free Taxi Ride Program on Tuesday from midnight to 4 a.m. by calling (518) 773-7998.

This dispatch system is available to pick people up who are leaving a party and take them directly home, and not to another party. Rides are available to go anywhere in Fulton County.

By Josh Bovee

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