The New York State Police will increase DWI and distracted driving patrols during this 4th of July weekend. The crackdown, beginning on Thursday July 3, through Sunday July 6, comes with a warning to motorists on the severe penalties and dangers of DWI and distracted driving. Additionally, more than 500 electronic message boards across the state will include “Don’t Drink and Drive… it’s the Law” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” notices.

“This is holiday weekend, and our State Police will be out in force to crack down on dangerous drivers,” Joe Robach said in a press release issued by his office. “The 4th of July is one of the busiest travel periods of the year, and through this statewide campaign we are working to keep our roads safe for all travelers. As we celebrate this important holiday, all New York drivers are urged to drive responsibly and obey the rules of the road.”

In an effort to prevent tragedies caused by impaired, distracted, aggressive or reckless driving, the New York State Police will once again initiate special traffic enforcement efforts during the holiday weekend. During the enforcement, drivers can expect a number of sobriety checkpoints, additional DWI patrols and underage drinking and sales to minors’ details during the campaign. Drivers should also remember to put down their electronic devices and also “move over” for stopped emergency and hazard vehicles stopped on the side of the road when they travel New York roadways.

During the campaign, Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) vehicles as part of the operation. These vehicles allow Troopers to more easily identify motorists who are using handheld devices while driving. These vehicles blend in with every day traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated.

Joe Robach Office pointed out that the New York State Police issued more than 10,000 vehicle and traffic tickets during the 4th of July weekend last year. That’s compared to just over 3,200 in 2012. On 4th of July weekend in 2013 alone, Troopers ticketed 2,000 more speeders, and made 100 more DWI arrests than in 2012.

DWI Penalties

In New York State, the penalties for an alcohol or drug-related violation include the loss of driving privileges, fines, and a possible jail term. Depending on the violation, drivers face up to seven years in jail, up to $10,000 in fines and permanent revocation of your license.

Distracted Driving Penalties

If a driver is caught using a handheld device behind the wheel, drivers face up to 5 points on their license, up to $400 in fines and a $93 surcharge, depending on the number of offenses.

Penalties for Young Drivers

For drivers with a probationary license, Class DJ, MJ or a learner permit, conviction will result in a mandatory 60 day driver license or permit suspension. A second such conviction within six months will result in a revocation of at least 6 months of a probationary license or revocation of at least 60 days for a Class DJ or MJ driver license or learner permit.

Data shows that the Fourth of July holiday period is especially deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the July 4th period in 2012, there were 179 people killed in crashes, and 44 percent of those crashes were alcohol-impaired.

Joe Robach, the Office of The New York State Police and NHTSA recommend these simple tips to prevent drunk driving:

• Plan a safe way home before the fun begins;
• Before drinking, designate a sober driver;
• If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation;
• Use your community’s sober ride program;
• If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact local law enforcement;
• If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.