3 Reasons Why New York is Winning Against Drunk Driving
Last year seven out of eight counties in Western New York saw a decrease in DWI arrests. Statewide, drunk driving arrests have been declining for years. Data released this month by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services shows that something is changing, and it’s changing for the better.
- Laws. New York has famously stringent anti-drunk-driving laws. “Leandra’s Law,” passed in 2009, imposed harsh penalties on those who drove drunk with a child in the car. It also mandated ignition interlocks for all DWI offenders. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. In 2014 “Vince’s Law” was signed by Governor Cuomo. It increased punishments for DWI offenders, and extended the “lookback” period, which the state uses to count a driver’s previous convictions, to fifteen years.
- Law Enforcement. Laws are only as strong as their enforcement. Sobriety checkpoints and DWI patrols are widespread in the state. Safeguards are in place to ensure that offenders who are required to install ignition interlocks actually comply with the mandate.
- Public Awareness. This is probably the area that accounts for most of the progress. While laws and enforcement are vital, there is always a limit to the number of people who can be arrested and convicted of drunk driving. For the numbers to move so sharply over so many years, the public must be getting the idea that driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous and, ultimately, not worth it.
Thanks to the efforts of organizations like MADD, New York’s legislators, vigilant police and dedicated courts, life has improved on the roadways of New York. Thanks must also go to the citizens of that state, who are doing the right thing every time they choose not to drive while impaired.