There are encouraging numbers in the effort to reduce the number of drunk drivers on area roadways.
According to new data released Monday by Erie County, arrests for driving while intoxicated are down nearly ten percent this year, compared to last year. That reduction is being attributed to the expansion of ride-hailing into Western New York, as well as continued efforts by area law enforcers and anti-DWI advocates.
Central Police Services commissioner James Jancewicz says with many people back in town and out celebrating this holiday week, efforts to find intoxicated drivers will be stepped up. Checkpoints and roving patrols will be in effect across the region.
"Just be responsible," advised Jancewicz. "Before you go out, talk about it. Have a plan how you're going to get home safely whether its having a designated driver, using one of the ride-shares that are out there, taxi services or one of the other resources. Talk about it ahead of time. Have a plan. We don't want you to be one of these statistics."
With scores of out-of-towners back home for the holiday, this week is one of the busiest times of the year for local bars and restaurants. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is often considered to be the biggest party night of the year.
While county officials say the decrease in DWI arrests is a positive sign, there were still 2,142 such arrests in the span of a year. The increased popularity of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, which only became legal in upstate New York in the summer of 2017, is believed to be a signficant factor in the reduced DWI arrest numbers.
November has been proclaimed STOP-DWI Month in New York. Since the initiative began in 1982, DWI fatalities have been reduced by more than 70%. Erie County had 45 DWI fatalities in 1995, compared to fewer than ten last year.