Saratoga County police crackdown eyes drunken drivers
SARATOGA COUNTY First come high school graduations and the associated underage drinking parties and then the long Fourth of July weekend, with its barbecues and beer.
Saratoga County’s STOP-DWI program is coordinating countywide police crackdowns for both weekends, which fall back-to-back this year.
Those two weekends will be followed by the opening of Saratoga Race Course, with all the visitors it brings, then a two-week-long crackdown running up to Labor Day, with its return of the grilled meats and chilled malt beverages.
“You put it all together, it’s going to be a very busy next three months,” county STOP-DWI Coordinator Robert Murphy said.
The STOP-DWI program provides money for overtime to put extra police patrols on the road when drunken driving is anticipated. The money for it comes from fines paid by people convicted of drunken-driving offenses.
There are 13 high school graduations taking place in the county, and all fall between Wednesday, June 25, and Saturday, June 28, Murphy said. The biggest — including those for Shenendehowa, Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa — will be held at the Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center. Two others will be at the Saratoga Springs City Center.
“We all know what goes with graduation parties,” Murphy said, referring to underage drinking.
The next week, the July 4 holiday falls on a Friday, and the STOP-DWI program will be providing funding for overtime patrols from the night before the holiday through early on the morning of Monday, July 7. This year, the holiday weekend also includes SPAC concerts July 3-5 by the popular jam band Phish, each of which is expected to draw as many as 25,000 additional people into Saratoga Springs.
The concentration of concert crowds can lead to drunken-driving arrests in the city, but county officials said drunken drivers then travel all over the county afterward.
“Once it gets to SPAC, it hits the whole county,” Murphy said.
Saratoga Springs police had six DWI arrests over the Memorial Day weekend, said city police Sgt. Andrew Prestigiacomo, who oversees traffic safety.
Assistant District Attorney Patrick Campion said there is definitely an increase in DWI during the summer months.