In an effort to reduce the number of drunken drivers on the road in upstate New York, area law enforcement has begun its participation in the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” program, a nationwide campaign created to prevent DWIs and the often deadly consequences.

The crackdown on drunken driving, which started Aug. 21 and is scheduled to run until Monday, will include checkpoints and increased officer presence on road.

The program involves multiple bodies of law enforcement, including New York State Police and Plattsburgh City Police, working together to combat DWI. Plattsburgh State University Police Chief Jerry Lottie said officers will also be working “hand-in-hand” with other area law enforcement on the “multi-jurisdictional” campaign.

“A unified approach is the best way to combat this issue,” Lottie said.

The campaign also targets repeat offenders, who make up about one-third of the drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving in the United States, according to the National Department of Transportation.

In the past 15 years, PSUC officers have collaborated with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office on similar projects and programs.
“It’s something we do pretty regularly,” Lottie said.

Although he noted the majority of DWI arrests in the area do not involve students, Lottie urged college students to familiarize themselves with city laws and ordinances and to “cooperate with officers” they may encounter.

Despite the fact that they are not the main focus of the crackdown in this area, college students are part of the issue on a national scale.

One-fifth of college students admitted to driving drunk at least once, and almost 40 percent of 20-year-olds say they have ridden in a vehicle with an intoxicated driver, according to a 2010 survey released by U.S. News & World Report, a media outlet that provides rankings and statistics on institutions.

In addition, the report states college students are more likely to drink and drive once they have reached the legal drinking age of 21.

College-aged citizens are also at a high risk of being injured or killed in accidents that involve alcohol. Auto accidents are the greatest single cause of death in Americans between the ages of 6 and 27, and more than half of these fatal accidents involve alcohol, according to West Virginia University’s Students’ Center of Health webpage.

For many students living on campus, driving is unnecessary when drinking because many parties and bars can be found within walking distance. However, even using alternate forms of transportation after drinking can still be consequential.

While a drunk bicyclist cannot be charged with a DUI in New York state, that is not the case in many other states, including New Hampshire, Louisiana and Florida. Due to New York’s classification of bicycles as non-vehicles, intoxicated riders cannot be charged under the DWI or DUI statue. However, drunken bicyclists may face lesser misdemeanor charges, such as public intoxication and public endangerment in New York if they are riding dangerously.

Though biking is his main form of transportation while at school, PSUC senior Dylan Irish said he believes it is important for riders to recognize situations where cycling is unsafe.

“Cyclists can still cause harm to themselves and those around them. Use reflectors, obey traffic laws and know when to leave your bike behind.”

Email Thomas Marble at news@cardinalpointsonline.com

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<a href="http://cardinalpointsonline.com/byline/thomas-marble/" rel="tag">Thomas Marble</a>