Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the New York State Police and local law enforcement agencies will participate in a special traffic safety initiative to prevent unsafe driving behaviors as the winter holiday season kicks off. The Thanksgiving weekend initiative runs from Wednesday, November 24, through Sunday November 28.
“As we look ahead to celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends, many of us will be spending time on the road and it’s critical we do everything we can to ensure that holiday travel can be done safely,” Governor Hochul said. “Getting behind the wheel while impaired by drugs or alcohol does nothing but put lives at risk. This year, make the responsible choice and help keep your fellow New Yorkers safe by having a plan to secure a safe and sober ride home.”
In an effort to ease travel during the busy Thanksgiving weekend, temporary lane closures for road and bridge construction projects on New York State highways will be suspended beginning Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 6 a.m. through Monday, Nov. 29 at 6 a.m. Motorists are advised that some work may continue behind permanent concrete barriers for emergency repairs. The construction suspension aligns with New York State’s Driver’s First initiative, which prioritizes the convenience of motorists to minimize traffic congestion and travel delays due to road and bridge work.
New York State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, “Troopers will be highly visible throughout the Thanksgiving weekend and on the lookout for impaired and reckless drivers. Please follow posted speed limits, put down your mobile phone, and make sure to slow down move over for emergency and highway maintenance vehicles. Most importantly, don’t get behind the wheel if you are impaired. Our goal is to ensure that everyone gets to their holiday celebrations safety.”
Governor’s Traffic Safety Council Chair and DMV Commissioner Mark J. F. Schroeder said, “We want all those traveling to see family and friends to make it to their destination safely and that is done by avoiding reckless and impaired driving. Driving impaired puts you, your passengers, and all those on the road in danger. Prevent a tragic event this Thanksgiving by driving sober.”
State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “The Department of Transportation will be suspending construction activities for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. State and local law enforcement agencies will be out enforcing vehicle and traffic laws that help keep motorists safe. I urge all motorists to do their part this holiday weekend by following the rules of the road and avoiding impaired and distracted driving. Put your phones down and pay attention. Let’s all get to our destinations safely this Thanksgiving.”
The State Police will supplement regular patrols statewide with dedicated impaired driving patrols including Drug Recognition Experts, fixed sobriety checkpoints, underage drinking enforcement, speed enforcement, and the use of Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) patrol vehicles to better locate drivers talking or texting on handheld devices. These unmarked vehicles blend in with everyday traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated.
Elevated traffic volumes typically occur during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. It is also a time when alcohol consumption is widespread. During the 2020 Thanksgiving holiday period, troopers arrested 155 drivers for DWI, issued 4,871 speeding tickets and 228 tickets for distracted driving.Statewide, law enforcement arrested 901 people for DWI, issued 7,406 tickets for speeding and 627 tickets for distracted driving.
To discourage impaired driving, The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and its partners will be participating in a nationwide social media blitz using the hashtag #BoycottBlackoutWednesday.
The Thanksgiving impaired driving enforcement initiative is funded by the GTSC. The GTSC and the New York State STOP-DWI Foundation remind motorists that their “Have a Plan” mobile app, is available for Apple, Android and Windows smartphones. The app enables New Yorkers to locate and call a taxi or rideshare service and program a designated driver list. It also provides information on DWI laws and penalties, and provides a way to report a suspected impaired driver.
If you drive drunk or drugged, you not only put your life and the lives of others at risk, you could face arrest, jail time, and substantial fines and attorney fees. The average drinking and driving arrest costs up to $10,000.
Arrested drunk and drugged drivers face the loss of their driver’s license, higher insurance rates, and dozens of unanticipated expenses from attorney fees, fines and court costs, car towing and repairs, and lost time at work.
The New York State Police, GTSC and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend these simple tips to prevent impaired driving:
- Plan a safe way home before the fun begins.
- Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
- If you’re impaired, use a taxi or ride sharing service, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
- Use your community’s sober ride program.
- If you suspect a driver is drunk or impaired on the road, don’t hesitate to contact local law enforcement.
If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.