TICONDEROGA - A third of all drunk driving arrests in Essex County during 2008 were in Ticonderoga.
There were 112 DWI arrests in Ti; 336 in the county last year, according to statistics from Essex County District Attorney's office.
Schroon had 32 DWI arrests, Moriah 16, Crown Point 9 and North Hudson four in 2008. North Elba, which includes Lake Placid and a portion of Saranac lake, had 94 DWI arrests in 2008.
Ticonderoga had 50 DWI arrest in 2007.
There's good news and bad news in the Ticonderoga statistics, according to DA Julie Garcia.
"Are more people drinking and driving or are we doing a better job of enforcement?" Garcia wondered aloud. "I can only guess that we've stepped up enforcement, which is a very good thing. It's really hard to analyze the data."
Sgt. Mike LaVallie of the Ticonderoga Police Department said local officers made DWI enforcement a priority in 2008.
"Based on some unfortunate incidents in the area we made DWI enforcement an emphasis," LaVallie said. "We have zero tolerance for DWI."
Those numbers are likely to increase, the DA warned.
"I've called for increased (DWI) enforcement all over the county," she said. "Let's get these people off the road before they kill someone or kill themselves. You can anticipate an increase in DWI arrests in 2009."
"We're hoping people get the message," LaVallie said. "It's a zero tolerance policy in Ticonderoga. If you drink and drive, you'll be arrested."
As part of her get-tough policy on DWI, Garcia said her office will no longer plea bargain with drivers whose blood-alcohol content is .1 or greater.
A person facing a DWI charge will face the maximum penalty and fine.
"People need to think of DWI and jail," she said. "We need to make people realize DWI is a serious crime."
Garcia noted alcohol-related traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for people ages 16-25 in the United States. Essex County is no exception.
More arrests and fewer plea bargains will likely mean more trials, Garcia said. Her office will absorb the increased work load and costs by collecting DWI fines, she said.
There are approximately 45,000 DWI arrests in New York State each year, Garcia said. That number has held steady the past decade.
"DWI has been a huge problem in our country for decades, Garcia said. "I"m amazed we haven't been more aggressive in increasing the penalties. Obviously, we're doing something wrong.
"We need to change the way people think of DWI," she said. "Too many people see it as an inconvenience rather than a crime.
"The only way the numbers will ever come down is to get the (state) legislature to pass a law that mandates jail for first time offenders. If people know they'll go to jail, they'll think twice about it."
Garcia said there are many more drunk drivers on the roads than those arrested.
"We have 300 arrests, but there are probably three or four times that many on our roads," she said. "Do we have to wait until it happens to someone we know or love to become passionate about it? I don't think so. Enough is enough. I feel strongly about this."
Garcia said she strongly supports efforts to prevent under-age drinking.
"We we can educate our young people about the dangers of under-age drinking we're reaching future adults and preventing future drinking and driving," she said.