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DWI Enforcement Drops Over Last Three Years

Written By Editor on 9/30/13 | 9/30/13

New York State has seen an increase in DWI arrests since the Great Recession began in 2008. The problem has been significant in Upstate New York, especially. Despite tremendous efforts to try and stem the tide of drunken driving, including public service campaigns, the trend is increasing.

New York north of the City has seen a total of 17,229 DWI arrests between 2010 and 2012 as compared to 16,893 in the previous three years. This 1.95% increase in cumulative arrests also came as the total number of people in the region declined. With this significant per-capita increase, New York State is struggling under the new caseload.

This problem appears particularly acute in poorer rural communities. As one of the poorest counties in Upstate New York, it would appear that the trend would especially high. Drunk driving cases have splashed the pages of local newspapers and television newscasts.

Instead, drunk driving arrests have plummeted. During the same 2010-2012 period, directly overlapping the term of Sheriff Tony Desmond, the numbers have fallen off. There were 56 felony DWI arrests in this period, compared to 79 the previous three under Sheriff John Bates. This represents a 29% drop. Furthermore, there were 406 misdemeanor DWI arrests as compared to 496 the previous three, an 18% fall.

Complaints about drunk driving appear to have increased across the County, but the Sheriff's Department has not arrested on the subject with the same ferocity as in the past. Much of the intoxicated driving enforcement has fallen on the lap of the State Police.

Part of this could be a way of decluttering the already packed local justice system by charging individuals with lesser offenses. However, direct evidence seems to point to a decline in road patrol since 2010. In the words of one worker at the Sheriff's office (NOT a candidate for political office), many of the back roads of Schoharie County are now considered largely unenforceable due to the stretching of finite resources. The reduction in road patrol hours instituted by Sheriff Desmond has also led to a rash of complaints about speeding.

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Deputy said...

I don't know your source but do they even know how to detect DWI? First off, Sheriff Desmond had actually increased road patrol hours by 4 hours a day post Irene. Second, have you studied the increase in domestic incidents, mental health crisis arrests and transports and 911 calls? These types of incidents are why when I work my shift and half of anothers, who is in the midst of taking 200 vacation hours off to campaign, it takes me 13.5 hours to get to my office to sign in. Running call to call makes DWI enforcement heck any traffic enforcement difficult. Sheriff Desmond has even assigned DWI patrols to areas and times of issue with the help of STOP DWI funding to fight the problem. Has your source worked any of those shifts?

Anonymous said...

The previous comment is on point, the article is incomplete. But I blame the near-retirement, lethargic source, not the author. The fact is that under Tony Desmond and Ron Stevens patrol hours have increased. Traffic (and thus DWI enforcement) have in fact fallen slightly to the wayside as Deputies have become responsible for taking initiative to handle all complaints and calls for service in the county, a task that used to be shared lop-sidedly with the state police (now we leave them available to write their quotas). On the issue of convictions for lesser offenses (plea bargains) we arrest people, we do not procecute the cases. That's the District Attorney.
As with any tax payer funded entity, the problem is demand vs. Man power. Give us more cops and we'll give you world class police service. If there aren't enough cops to safely handle the calls or incidents, service suffers. And we've been under staffed since the Bates administration, only under Desmond has it begun to be righted.
If you truly want to know about the troubles hindering DWI enforcement, talk to a night cop maybe even one who works the weekends.

Anonymous said...

I implore you, Mr. Knight, what does it say about Desmond's leadership abilities that he has the support of nearly all his road patrol?

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