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Albany County's new take on drunk driving

State Trooper Ian DeGiovine was one of four injured in this 2006 crash involving a drunk driver. DeGiovine told his story during a Nov. 1 news conference to announce results of the latest DWI enforcement effort in Albany County.

State Trooper Ian DeGiovine was one of four injured in this 2006 crash involving a drunk driver. DeGiovine told his story during a Nov. 1 news conference to announce results of the latest DWI enforcement effort in Albany County.

New York State Trooper Ian DeGiovine has had extensive surgery, gone through intense physical therapy and has somehow beaten the odds and returned to duty despite a horrific 2006 run-in with an intoxicated driver.

The trooper, based out of the state police barracks in Guilderland, was on a routine DWI patrol with a fellow trooper in Greene County, when their patrol vehicle was struck head-on by another vehicle traveling the wrong way at speeds of over 100 miles per hour.

Speaking at the announcement of Albany County’s latest DWI enforcement crackdown on Nov. 1, DeGiovine explained that it doesn’t take much for a driver to be impaired.

“The person that hit us, his blood alcohol content level wasn’t extremely high,” said DeGiovine, who added that the driver’s BAC was just below the legal limit of .08 percent.

During a countywide crackdown Oct. 28 through Nov. 1, police around Albany County made 786 traffic stops and 29 arrests of motorists allegedly operating their vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs. During the same time period in 2010, police made 1,200 stops throughout Albany County during an enforcement effort that resulted in 15 DWI arrests.

One clear difference between the two saturation patrols is that law enforcement agencies, starting with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, have decided to go back to a mix of announced and unannounced patrols in an effort to deter impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel.

Denis Foley, the Albany County STOP-DWI Coordinator, said everybody, including law enforcement, is vulnerable to drunk drivers.

“It’s the most common criminal act in America, and the most common one in Albany County,” said Foley.

It’s been 14 years since Richard Garhartt, a traffic investigator with the Colonie Police Department, was nearly killed by a drunk driver while on duty. He was struck by a driver fleeing the scene of a traffic stop near the Starlite Theater, leaving Garhartt with life-threatening injuries that kept him from ever returning to the force.

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