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The New York State Police and other local law enforcement agencies are cracking down on drunk and distracted driving during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Members of the state police will be setting up fixed sobriety checkpoints, stepping up their underage drinking enforcement and the “Operation Hang Up” initiative, which targets distracted drivers by utilizing Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement patrol vehicles to better locate drivers talking or texting on hand held devices. The enforcement period began on Wednesday, Nov. 27, and will continue through Sunday, Dec. 1.

“Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel times of the year and our focus is helping ensure everyone gets where they need to go safely so they can spend quality time with family and loved ones,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “State Troopers and local law enforcement will be highly visible in the coming days, cracking down on impaired and reckless drivers — and I urge drivers to follow the law and make safety your top priority while out on the roads.”

During the Thanksgiving holiday, drivers can expect higher volumes of traffic, and it is also a time when alcohol consumption is widespread. In 2018, state troopers arrested 215 drivers for DWI, issued 5,834 speeding tickets, 774 tickets for distracted driving, and 218 tickets for move over law violations during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

This year’s impaired driving enforcement initiative is funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC). The GTSC and the New York State STOP-DWI Foundation remind motorists that their “Have a Plan” mobile app, which allows New Yorkers to locate and call a taxi or rideshare service and program a designated driver list. The app, which is available for Apple, Android and Windows smartphones, also provides information on DWI laws and penalties, and provides a way to report a suspected impaired driver.

The New York State Police, GTSC and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend these tips to prevent impaired driving this Thanksgiving:

  • 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.

Cuomo and law enforcement agencies are reminding New York drivers that if you drive while under the influence, you could face arrest, jail time, and substantial fines and attorney fees. The average drinking and driving arrest costs up to $10,000, and 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.

“During this Thanksgiving holiday weekend I encourage all New Yorkers to make safety their top priority,” said New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett. “If your celebrations include alcohol, plan ahead to ensure you have a safe ride home. There’s simply no excuse to get behind the wheel if you’re impaired, and State Troopers will have zero tolerance. Make the right choice and avoid the senseless tragedies caused by impaired driving.”

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