By FELICIA KRIEG
---- — PLATTSBURGH — As police and courts continue to penalize those who drive drunk, designated drivers in Clinton County will be rewarded for keeping the road safer.
The Clinton County Sheriff’s Department is using driving-while-intoxicated fines to partner with Stewart’s Shops to provide free coffee coupons to designated drivers at DWI checkpoints during upcoming drunken-driving details.
The effort coincides with the countywide Labor Day DWI crackdown — joining the Sheriff’s Department in the effort are Plattsburgh City Police, State Police, State Park Police and State Environmental Conservation Police.
Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Frank Mercier said it’s unknown how many lives designated drivers have saved.
“You’ll never get that statistic,” he said.
‘DRINKING CAN BE DEADLY’
Labor Day weekend coincides with the start of college semesters in the area, and Mercier said the span of time tends to up the risk of drunk drivers on the road, as well as incidence of assault or sexual assault at gatherings.
“The first 30 days of college is a concern.”
New students and even returning students are often unaware how dangerous binge drinking and alcohol poisoning can be.
“They didn’t realize that if you drink too much, you can literally die.”
It takes about 90 minutes for alcohol to become completely absorbed into the bloodstream, Mercier said.
And it takes an hour for alcohol that has already hit the bloodstream to be metabolized at 90 percent, he said.
“Your body will metabolize about .02 percent alcohol an hour, and one drink equals .02 alcohol (content).”
When it doubt, don’t drive, he said.
‘MAKE A PLAN’
There are many misconceptions about what is considered one drink, Mercier said.
For example, a glass of Long Island iced tea could be considered four or five drinks, and wine coolers still count as one drink, contrary to popular belief, he said.
And a higher tolerance for alcohol doesn’t mean a person will metabolize it more quickly than someone with a lower tolerance, Mercier said.
The Sheriff’s Department would welcome partnerships with other businesses to reward designated drivers, he said.
If there’s any possibility of drinking, people need to make a plan, before consuming alcohol, about how they will return home, he said.
“If you’re going to go out, make that decision before you start drinking.”
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