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May 22, 2002


Public Awareness Campaign to Begin This Summer

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that New York City would undertake an aggressive anti-Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) campaign for the summer season that will begin Memorial Day weekend. The NYPD will operate additional sobriety checkpoints and have extra police patrolling the streets and highways. In addition, the Department of Transportation announced an outdoor advertising and public service announcement (PSA) campaign and the Mayor reminded drivers of the City's forfeiture policy that seizes drivers' vehicles when they are arrested for DWI. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Transportation Commissioner Iris W. Weinshall joined the Mayor at the announcement.

"Drunk driving is selfish, dangerous and it kills," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Last year, there were 1,971 DWI accidents in New York City and 34 fatalities. If you are thinking of driving drunk, don't, because we will take your car and send you to jail. If you have been drinking give the car keys to someone else or take a cab. Don't risk ruining your life or ending others by getting behind the wheel. Split second decisions can change lives forever and our new public awareness campaign aims to make sure people make the right ones."

Thirty-six sobriety checkpoints will operate in all five boroughs over the weekend. The highway division will have extra units monitoring all of the principle entrance points into the City and foot patrols will be on the lookout for reckless drivers. The NYPD's harbor unit will also be aggressively enforcing Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) laws and will establish checkpoints through the harbor.

Since February 1999 when the City's drunk driving forfeiture policy was instituted, 5,460 cars have been seized, including 647 this year. Fourteen percent of the 5,460 cars seized have been returned to the owners through a settlement policy that mandates treatment and counseling in exchange for the return of the seized vehicles. The Courts have consistently sustained the City's forfeiture policy, most recently by the New York State Court of Appeals. "The automobile of a drunk driver is the quintessential instrumentality of a crime," ruled Supreme Court Justice Michael D. Stallman. The City received the Automobile Club of New York's prestigious platinum award in 2001 for reducing the number of drunk-driving fatalities by 72 percent between the years 2000 and 2001.

"With the heavy traffic that occurs during Memorial weekend, drinking and driving is even more dangerous than usual," said Commissioner Kelly. "We want to make sure all the families that travel this weekend are safe. Our patrols will closely monitor points throughout the city. If you drink and drive, you will be caught and you will face severe consequences."

"At the Department of Transportation, we make every effort to fight drunk driving with educational programs and community outreach," said Commissioner Weinshall. "But now, during a season marked by holidays, proms and graduation, we are asking all drivers to be extra careful and aware of the dangers of driving drunk. Unfortunately, those of us in transportation and law enforcement have seen the graphic results of a drunk-driving accident. It is behavior that cannot - and will not - be tolerated. We need to remain vigilant as we warn people against the dangers of drinking and driving. That's why our ad campaign will provide graphic reminders of the dangers of driving drunk."

The outdoor campaign will commence at the beginning of the summer and will be posted on buses, bus shelters, and billboards and be supplemented by radio and television PSAs. The campaign will also focus on reaching the younger populations who may not be aware of the consequences of driving while drunk. See the advertising campaign (in PDF).

Contact: Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz
(212) 788-2958
  Michael O'Looney (NYPD)
(646) 610-6700
Tom Cocola (DOT)
(212) 442-7033