State and local police will be cracking down on underage drinking next week in the hope of keeping the roads safe for holiday drivers, says Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
As part of the Thanksgiving traffic initiative, inspectors from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles will be checking IDs at bars and taverns from Wednesday, Nov. 23 through Sunday, Nov. 27.
Blackout Wednesday or "Drinksgiving," is the night before Thanksgiving, which is always a Thursday. It is associated with binge boozing since few people work on the holiday, and most university students are home celebrating with their families and reconnecting with friends.
The DMV also conducts operations at the request of bar owners, police and the State Liquor Authority in larger cities and college towns.
Anyone under the age of 21 caught using a fake ID can be arrested and have their license revoked for a minimum of 90 days or up to one year.
Cuomo said that DMV investigators arrested 411 people for underage drinking and confiscated 437 fake identification documents during the recent summer concert season.
State police will conduct fixed sobriety checkpoints and unmarked patrol cars will be deployed in order to nab drivers who are illegally talking or texting on handheld devices.
State troopers made 218 drunken driving arrests and issued 5,910 speeding tickets during last year’s crackdown. They also ticketed 732 distracted drivers and 204 more for violating the “Move Over” law.
The law requires drivers to move safely to another lane – or, at least slow down – when approaching police cars, ambulances, tow trucks, snow plows and other emergency or maintenance vehicles stopped on the side of the road.
Thirty-one counties and 128 local law enforcement agencies participated in last year’s crackdown. This resulted in 120 DWI/DWAI arrests, 12 DWAI-drugs only arrests, 91 other arrests and 1,449 vehicle and traffic summonses.
Nineteen people died in car crashes last year in New York during the Thanksgiving holiday. Of those, eight crashes were alcohol-related, seven were caused by speeding and five were blamed on a combination of speeding and drinking.
George P. Beach II, head of the state police, said troopers will be “highly visible to ensure everybody has a safe Thanksgiving weekend."
Everyone will get home safely if folks just follow these few simple rules, police said:
- 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, use public transportation or 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.