New Year's Day is almost here, and law enforcement agencies want to make sure you live to see it.
According to Sgt. Kevin Mulverhill, traffic supervisor with the New York State Police's Troop B, state police have joined authorities from across the country in the national Drunk Driving: Over the Limit. Under Arrest" campaign. The aim of the campaign is to crack down on those choosing to drink and drive this holiday season.
"The goal is to improve highway safety through public awareness," explained Mulverhill. "So, you're going to see stepped up enforcement with a focus on impaired drivers, excessive speed and using seatbelts."
New Year's Eve is traditionally a time of year when people like to celebrate, but if that celebration involves alcohol, Mulverhill said driving afterward should be left out of the equation.
"If you're planning to drink alcohol with friends, designate a sober driver before going out," Mulverhill said. "Give that person your keys. If you are impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit, call a sober friend or family member."
Motorists believed to be under the influence should expect to be asked to perform a roadside sobriety test and to take a breathalyzer test to determine blood alcohol content. In New York State, the legal limit is 0.08 percent.
Those who fail can expect to receive a ticket to appear in local criminal court to answer of charges ranging from driving while intoxicated to driving while ability impaired and driving under the influence, among others.
Other consequences can include the loss of your driver's license, paying a fine, a requirement to attend schooling for education on DWI, and increased premiums for or loss of automobile insurance coverage.
Even worse, a driver under the influence of alcohol can take the life of another person or themselves when behind the wheel, said Mulverhill.
This year, state police investigators from Troop B - which covers Clinton, Essex, Franklin and St. Lawrence counties and a portion of Hamilton County - have investigated 21 fatal crashes that have resulted in the loss of 23 lives. Of those 21 accidents, six were found to be the result of a driver impaired by alcohol.
"Every year in this country, somewhere between 13,000 and 17,000 people are killed in alcohol-related crashes," said Mulverhill. "The thing about alcohol-related crashes is they're 100 percent preventable. It's really all about decision-making; making good choices as opposed to making bad choices. If you're going to drink, don't drive."
Several communities also offer free rides for those who've had too much to drink, which is a service those under the influence should take advantage of, he said.
In the city of Plattsburgh, the law firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti LLP is working with local taxi services, local taverns and restaurants to offer free cab rides home to those who may have had too much to drink by calling 1-800-LAW-1010.