Press-Republican

February 1, 2013

Clinton County STOP-DWI gears up for big game

By FELICIA KRIEG
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — As Super Bowl Sunday nears, local law enforcement agencies are already cracking down on drunken driving.

“Agencies will be out in force, utilizing sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols to deter drunk driving,” STOP-DWI New York said in the press release. Those who are impaired by illegal and prescription drugs will also be under scrutiny.

In addition to being a period of law enforcement vigilance against drunken driving statewide, Feb. 1 through 4 this year is a crackdown period for Clinton County STOP-DWI, said Sergeant Frank Mercier, the program’s coordinator.

In Clinton County, all the fines generated from DWI arrests, about $250,000 from 500 DWI cases, completely cover the cost of the STOP-DWI program at no expense to the taxpayer, Mercier said.

Clinton County STOP-DWI will use a budget of $317,779 this year for costs associated with enforcement, prosecution, probation, rehabilitation, public information/education and administration.

The budget also funds non-alcoholic after-prom parties at local high schools, Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.), commercials, education for students and the public and extra DWI enforcement patrols, among other measures.

Also assisting law enforcement and parole departments in the effort to stop drunken driving are the Clinton County Mental Health and Addiction Services and the speakers of the Victim’s Impact Panel.

NEW INITIATIVES

This year, STOP-DWI is looking to work with Clinton County Public Transportation to display anti-drunken driving ads on public buses, Mercier said. Details and board vote are forthcoming, he said.

In an attempt to give STOP-DWI “more of a positive note,” a designated drivers initiative that is in its final planning stages would award a free Stewart’s coffee to designated drivers who pass through checkpoints, Mercier said.

Local law enforcement agencies will offer Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS) to restaurants, hotels, bars, nightclubs and all on-premise liquor license holders in the county free of charge, Mercier said.

The online training program educates employees on the legal responsibilities of serving alcohol, defines the types of illegal sales and gives information about checking IDs and documenting incidents, according to the TIPS website.

An underage drinking initiative is also planned for this year. Last year, underage operatives working with police attempted to use fake IDs at more than 20 retail establishments on April 28, Sept. 28 and Nov. 23. About five summons were issued for each sting.

Posting signs on behalf of law enforcement agencies in liquor stores informing those who are underage and are attempting to purchase alcohol that they will be prosecuted is being explored, Mercier said.

FINES AND SUPERVISION

“A lot of our DWI cases have outstanding fines,” said Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie at the STOP-DWI board’s January meeting.

Wylie believes judges in some lower courts in the county may not be properly enforcing the payment of fines.

“It doesn’t go away,” he said of the charges.

The Clinton County Probation Department is currently supervising approximately 217 DWI cases, with 114 of them being felony cases.

Of those, three people are on electronic monitoring, one person is being monitored by a transdermal alcohol device and six people are enrolled on ignition interlock, according to the Clinton County Probation Department.

A transdermal alcohol device is an tamper-resistant ankle bracelet that monitors alcohol consumption.

Ignition interlock devices are equipped with recording devices that capture the number of times the vehicle was started or attempted to be started, the driver’s blood-alcohol content at the time an attempt was made to start the car and the duration the vehicle was driven during the monitoring period, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

ARREST STATISTICS

For all of 2012 in Clinton County, the Plattsburgh City Police Department reported 116 DWI arrests, four driving while ability impaired arrests and nine driving while ability impaired by drugs arrests.

For December 2012, State Police, University Police and the Sheriff’s Department made 27 arrests related to impaired driving whether by alcohol or drugs, according to Clinton County STOP-DWI.

Joining Mercier on the Clinton County STOP-DWI volunteer advisory board are Wylie, Clinton County Probation Director David Marcoux, Clinton County Mental Health and Addiction Services Coordinator Stacey Beebie, Cpl. Levi Ritter of the Plattsburgh City Police Department, Lt. Thomas Sullivan of the University Police, Lt. Paul Rissetto of the Sheriff’s Department.

Board volunteers are Gregory Martin, Shirley Parent, Harry Sanborn, Bernie Phaneuf, Rick Hazen, Connie Harrica, Sandra Lashua, Chris Dumont, Nancy Monette, Glenn Pavone and Stacey Beebie. Each volunteer represents a different legislative area in Clinton County.

The board’s next meeting is at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office. STOP-DWI meetings are open to the public.

Email Felicia Krieg:

fkrieg@pressrepublican.com

PENALTIES FOR DRIVING WHILE IMPAIRED IN NEW YORK STATE A first offense DWI or driving while ability impaired by a drug (DWAI), a misdemeanor, can garner up to a year in jail and ignition interlock. For first offense DWI there is a six-month license revocation and for a first offense DWAI by a drug there is a six-month license suspension. A second offense DWI within 10 years of the first offense, a felony, can result in up to four years in jail with one year of ignition interlock. Penalties differ for driving while impaired by combined alcohol and drugs; aggravated driving while intoxicated; and aggravated driving while intoxicated with a child. The cost of a drunken driving conviction for first-time offenders ranges from $5,595 to $9,140, according to STOP-DWI New York. Charges range from $10 to $3,000 and are incurred from costs associated with towing, car storage, defense attorney fees, bail fee, DWI fine, state surcharges, ignition interlock fee, a separate interlock fee, alcohol evaluation, Victim Impact Panel fee, probation supervision, conditional license, drinking driver program, Department of Motor Vehicles civil penalty, DWI license reinstation, DMV suspension termination, auto insurance increases and an assessment, which is done every three years. For more information on STOP-DWI, go to www.stopdwi.org.