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Poughkeepsie…Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro joined the Dutchess County Chapter of Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) today for the 32nd annual “DWI Victims Memorial Ceremony” to honor the memories of Dutchess County victims of DWI crashes. Friends and family gathered as 44 victims’ names were read and balloons were released in their memory. The goal of the event is to heighten public awareness of alcohol related fatalities and the impact of impaired driving on the community.
Dutchess County Molinaro said, “It is important for us, as a community, not only to be ever vigilant in our response to those who choose to drive impaired or under the influence, but also, most importantly, to remember those lives that have been impacted and certainly, and sadly, those lives that have been lost. The decision to drive under the influence is a choice; it is also a crime. To choose to drive under the influence, to choose to drive while impaired, is to take not only your own life into your hands, but the lives of so many others.”
The RID Ceremony included the presentation of the annual Jo Johnson Memorial Scholarship, which is given in memory of Josephine “Jo” Johnson who founded the Dutchess County Chapter of RID in 1981. The scholarship was presented to Danielle Fergus of Millbrook High School.
Following the RID Ceremony, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro and Dutchess County District Attorney William Grady, along with state and local law enforcement representatives announced countywide law enforcement participation in a special STOP-DWI enforcement effort to crackdown on impaired driving. These efforts are part of the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Crackdown Enforcement project. The Memorial Day crackdown efforts start May 22nd and will end May 26th.
“Summer is a great time to enjoy Dutchess County, so we want to make sure our roads are safe for families, residents, and visitors alike. Our community will not tolerate risking lives because of impaired driving,” said County Executive Molinaro. “Thank you to all of our partner local law enforcement agencies and officers who will be out enforcing the laws to make our roadways safe. Remember, Don’t Drink and Drive. It just is not worth the risk.”
The Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, as well as local law enforcement personnel will be out in force in this coordinated multi-agency effort to reduce the number of alcohol and drug related injuries, crashes and deaths during the holiday period.
District Attorney Bill Grady said, “We have too many tragic examples of the devastation that drunk driving can have. Innocent people lose their lives because someone either thinks they are okay to drive or simply doesn’t care about the consequences of their actions. Be forewarned… if you are arrested for drunk driving, you will be fully prosecuted.”
Memorial Day week is historically a deadly period for impaired driving and represents the beginning of the traditional summer season. In addition, there will be parties and barbeques to celebrate graduations, proms, communions, confirmations and warm weather. This combination of factors equates to more people on the road in general and more specifically, driving impaired.
The Memorial Day Weekend Crackdown is one of many statewide enforcement initiatives promoted by the New York State STOP-DWI Association with additional funding from the STOP-DWI Foundation with a grant from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.
Dutchess County was 1 of 44 County STOP-DWI Programs awarded grant monies totaling more than $2.2 million to support 330 participating Law Enforcement agencies statewide. Dutchess received $128,700 to coordinate the enforcement project countywide. The Statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign also targets 4th of July and Labor Day weekend, Halloween, and the national holiday season in December.
According to Dutchess County STOP-DWI Coordinator William C. Johnson, “The STOP-DWI programs role in this multifaceted approach is to reduce the prevalence of impaired driving deaths, crashes and injuries all of which are 100% preventable with coordinated enforcement. Continued funding at this level is a testament to the established partnerships and level of interagency cooperation in Dutchess County. There is unilateral support of this common goal.”