Thu July 5, 2012
Erie County offers safe way home for drunk drivers
Erie County is kicking off a new program designed to provide a safe way home for drunk drivers.
The Designated Driver Program is privately funded and will run through the county's Stop DWI office. It provides two designated drivers; one to take the intoxicated driver home in their vehicle, and one to follow.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz calls it a smart way to remove drunk drivers from the road.
"We all know that one of the worst decisions an individual can make is drinking and driving, and after some of the most recent incidents that we've had, we're trying trying to ensure that the public is aware that there are alternatives out there," Poloncarz said.
The program uses drivers supplied by Designated Drivers of Buffalo, which will recruit local bars and restaurants to participate in the program.
Funding for the program, $19,000 in 2012, was all privately donated, with no County funds or DWI fine revenue involved. Among the donors are the Erie County Police Chiefs Benevolent Association, Erie County Restaurant Association, DIAGEO, and local distributors of Budweiser, Coors, and Miller beer. All funding received is in the STOP-DWI Reserve Account.
“The Designated driver Program is a terrific addition to our overall DWI prevention project,” said John Sullivan, Director of the Erie County STOP-DWI Office. “It’s an easy and affordable alternative to drunken driving and we hope that people take advantage of it rather than risk arrest or causing a crash.”
No county funds are being used for the program, which kicks off this week.
Poloncarz said the program will be run through the county's Stop DWI office and will provide drivers to take intoxicated individuals and their cars home.
"We've been able to receive through private donations assistance which allows us to offset that cost so if individuals are in a situation where they've had too much to drink they can contact Designated Drivers of Buffalo and through a reduced cost they are able to not only get home safely, but get their vehicle home safely," Poloncarz said.
"Collaboration with Designated Drivers of Buffalo is a perfect complement to the efforts of Erie County law enforcement,” said John Glascott, Commissioner of Central Police Services. “Local police agencies, the Sheriff’s Office, and the New York State Police detect and arrest drunken drivers every day. Our hope is that Erie County residents plan ahead for their travel plans, avoid the trouble that comes with DWI, and above all, enjoy a safe and fun 4th of July holiday.”
“We are very excited to partner with Erie County in this unique program,” said Michael Mule, General Manager of Designated Drivers of Buffalo. “We are so excited to be able to work with the county law enforcement as well as local establishments to form this partnership that will ultimately help save so many lives. In today’s climate we understand that people still want to go out and have a good time. There is nothing wrong with that, we just ask that you take the appropriate measures to get home safely without causing harm to you or someone else. This partnership will really help to enforce that.”