Contact: Sunny Mindel/ Matthew Higgins (212) 788-2958
Marilyn Mode, NYPD (212) 374-6700
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Patrick Kelleher today reminded motorists that the Police Department will once again increase drunk driving enforcement at locations throughout the City during the holiday season. The Mayor and the Deputy Police Commissioner warned New Yorkers that anyone who drives under the influence of alcohol faces steep fines, forfeiture of their vehicle and a possible prison sentence. Joining the Mayor at the City Hall announcement was Peter Jones, Treasurer of the New York State chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Peter's twenty-year old son Christopher, was killed in Queens by a drinking driver in 1993.
The Mayor also released the latest figures in New York City's successful DWI car seizure initiative, which began on February 22, 1999. The number of alcohol-related fatalities has declined by 42 percent to date compared to the same period last year and the number of DWI arrests has gone down almost 20 percent. The number of alcohol-related crashes has gone down 14 percent and a total of 1,418 cars have been seized under the initiative.
"Drunk driving is a violent crime that shatters the lives of thousands of people every year, especially during the holiday season," the Mayor said. "Fortunately, drunk driving is also a crime that can be prevented when drivers adhere to a simple rule: if you decide to drink, don't get behind the wheel. Instead, New Yorkers should plan ahead, leave the car at home and designate a driver or use a taxi or car service. Although the vast majority of New Yorkers do drive responsibly, anyone who would even consider getting behind the wheel while under the influence should also consider that the New York City Police Department will be actively patrolling the highways and streets of our City throughout the holidays."
The Mayor continued, "The Police Department will also be stopping cars and looking for motorists who may be impaired at undisclosed DWI checkpoints in all five boroughs. If you are drinking and driving and the Police Department stops you, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and your car may be seized -- permanently. New York City's successful DWI car seizure initiative has prevented numerous senseless tragedies and is helping to save more and more lives everyday. By cooperating with the Police Department, all New Yorkers can help keep our City safe and enjoyable this holiday season."
Deputy Commissioner Patrick Kelleher said, "I'm pleased to see that so many have chosen to celebrate this holiday season in New York City and I urge the record number of travelers we will see over the coming days to act responsibly if they plan to get behind the wheel of a car. Nothing can turn a celebration into a tragedy faster than the reckless and criminal act of driving while under the influence. The NYPD will be out in full force over the next several weeks to enforce all DWI laws, and I promise you, if you are found to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will be arrested and your car will be taken from you. The message couldn't be simpler - if your holiday celebration includes alcohol, use public transportation or a designated driver."
Maureen Fisher Ricardella, State Chair of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said, "The holiday season is, unfortunately, a time of year when we see an increase in the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities. Last year, between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, we lost 1,868 precious lives in alcohol-related traffic crashes on our nation's highways. MADD fully supports all efforts to reduce the number of drinking drivers on the streets of New York this holiday season, and throughout the coming year. We urge all people living and visiting New York City during the holidays to consider the alternatives to drinking and driving - use the designated driver program, cabs, public transportation - and avoid becoming another tragic holiday statistic."
In 1998, 15,935 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in the United States, representing more than 38 percent of all traffic fatalities. Over a million people were injured in alcohol-related crashes. In New York State, 365 of the 1,498 traffic fatalities registered in 1998 were alcohol-related. Since New York City's DWI car seizure began on February 22, 1999, the number of DWI fatalities has dropped 42 percent to 18, compared to 31 fatalities during the same period last year.
MADD is a non-profit grass roots organization with more than 600 chapters nationwide, looking for effective solutions to the drunk driving and underage drinking problems, while supporting those who have already experienced the pain of these senseless crimes.