Arrests for impaired driving in Albany County
#LawEnforcement #TicketDecrease #JimFranco #SpotlightNews
ALBANY — An analysis of data released by the state Department of Motor Vehicles found New Yorkers are less often getting behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.
The number of drug- or alcohol-related crashes in 2017 dipped .34 percent from 9,208 in 2016 to 9,177 in 2017, according to the analysis by the Rosenblum Law firm, which specializes in all manners of traffic offenses. It is still 7 percent higher than the six-year low of 8,579 reported in 2015, but it does continue a steady decline since 2009, when there were 9,701 accidents where alcohol and/or drugs were a factor.
From 2009 through the end of 2017, all alcohol-related crashes in New York decreased by 10 percent. Fatal alcohol-related crashes have fallen by 30 percent and personal injury crashes declined by nearly 16 percent.
“New York is very aggressive in targeting and penalizing drivers who get behind the wheel drunk or on drugs,” said attorney Adam Rosenblum about the findings. “A drop in impaired driving, no matter how large or small, shows drivers are increasingly understanding both the safety and legal consequences of such actions.”
Last year, state and local police wrote 61,554 tickets for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which is 2.3 percent fewer than in 2016 and 24.7 percent fewer than 2009, according to the law firm.
In Albany County, there were 18 percent fewer impaired driving accidents, dropping from 268 in 2016, to 227 in 2017.
That number is contrary to some surrounding counties. In Saratoga, there was a 8.6 percent increase from 202 to 221, in Schenectady there was a 17 percent jump from 93 to 112 and in Rensselaer there was an 11 percent increase from 105 to 118.
Other traffic related data in Albany County, according to the analysis by Rosenblum:
• The total number of traffic tickets has remained on a steady decline since 2009, going from 86,879 to 74,895 in 2017
• The number of cell phone tickets has remained steady since 2012, when 4,441 tickets were issued, to 2017, when 4,396 tickets were issued. The high since 2009 came in 2010 when there were 5,071 tickets issued.
• The total number of crashes has remained steady from 8,140 in 2009 to 8,225 in 2017.
• The number of tickets for seat belt violations have steadily decreased from 86,879 in 2009 to 74,895 in 2017.
• The number of speeding tickets has remained relatively steady from 22,799 in 2009 to 21,771 in 2017 with a low of 20,400 in 2015.
• The total number of motorcycle crashes has remained relatively steady with 131 in 2009 and 112 in 2017 with a high of 157 in 2012.
“Everyone wants our roads to be as safe as possible,” Rosenblum said in a press release. “Between better decision making and the rise of convenient services such as Uber and Lyft, it’s comforting to know that New Yorkers are choosing safer alternatives to driving while intoxicated.”
To see the entire report by Rosenblum click here.
In Colonie, Lt. Robert Donnelly, head of the Traffic Safety Unit, said the number of DWI and related arrests has steadily gone down.
The average number of arrests per year for 2008 through 2012 was 283 while the average for 2013 through 2017 was 172 and if you look at 2015 through today it is 155.
There are a variety of factors, in his opinion, that has contributed to the decline including ride sharing programs like Uber and Lyft.
“A lot of people would not take a taxi because it was too expensive but I have a daughter in her 20s and she will take one of those at the drop of a hat,” he said. “There are less people choosing to drive and I think people are finally getting the message as far as drunk driving is concerned.”
He said while the younger generation grew up with the message that “drinking and driving is bad,” but the new challenge for police officers is a prevalence of driving under the influence of drugs. Marijuana, in particular, is more and more socially acceptable and is legal in a growing number of places, and pills, which are difficult to detect by outward indicators like smell or a blatant lack of muscle control which are sure fire signs someone has been drinking.
“It is harder for the average patrolman to recognize it without a more in depth interview and there is special training for officers to detect the signs of drugged driving,” Donnelly said. “The younger generation may say ‘drinking and driving is bad,’ and that ‘I’d never do that’ but it seems more acceptable to do other things and get behind the wheel.”
In Bethlehem, Cmdr. Adam Hornick said things are not so clear cut.
“Locally it is difficult to see a definitive trend as we have seen some peaks and valleys in the numbers,” he said. “While we continue to work with the county and other agencies on the educational aspects of DWI, we are seeing rising numbers of DWI related crashes. This could be due to the shift in drinking hours to earlier in the day as opposed to late at night. In our opinion, it is still too early to tell the effects of ride sharing to see if that correlates to a decrease in arrests and crashes.”
In 2006, Bethlehem police made 94 DWI arrests and 56 in 2017. So far this year, police have arrested 31 people for DWI. From 2006, the most arrests, 95, occurred in 2008 followed closely with 92 in 2011.
In Bethlehem, the number of DWI arrests bottomed out in 2014 with 34, but spiked to 73 the following year. And, there have been 11 alcohol related crashes so far this year, which is the highest since 2007 when there were 14. In 2010 there were just two which is the fewest in a 12 year, 10-month span.
The study coincides with a recently issued proclamation by Gov. Andrew Cuomo naming November as STOP-DWI Month in New York state. The program is funded exclusively by fines collected from drunk and/or drugged driving convictions and it helps localities to enact “creative and collaborative strategies” utilizing education, awareness and enforcement to address impaired driving.
The state Special Traffic Options for Driving While Intoxicated Program was established in 1981 to coordinate state and local efforts to reduce the number of impaired driving offenses and prevent accidents caused by impaired drivers.
Since 1981, fatalities from impaired drivers has decrease by 74 percent statewide.
“We have made tremendous progress in New York thanks to the STOP-DWI program,” said Terri Egan, the state DMV executive deputy commissioner and acting chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.