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Lupardo, Akshar Secure $1.6 Million for Stop-DWI Programs Across the State

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Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator Fred Akshar announced Friday that they’ve secured $1.6 million in state funds for Stop-DWI programs across New York.

Chris Marion, Coordinator of Stop-DWI in Broome County, says his program is expected to get $27,500, funds they desperately need.

“Funding for our program comes from the fines paid by those convicted of drug or alcohol-related offenses.”

DWI arrests are down in Broome County, with 2016 seeing the lowest number than any year before.

One of nine fatal crashes in the area, two were alcohol-related.

“If you look at the statistics year over year and decade over decade, you’ll see a tremendous decline in the number of people injured and killed and involved in alcohol or drug-related crashes.”

That’s why Stop-DWI programs are in need of funding. When arrests are down, so are funds.

“Results of our success is less money coming in, but we don’t want to see our results get undone. We want to see the numbers continue to drag down.”

While drunk driving is down, other influences have become a bigger issue.

Drug-impaired drivers accounted for 26% of all fatal crashes in New York in 2016.

“We’re gonna address the myth that picking a drug other than alcohol is the lesser of two evils. People may think it’s safe to smoke marijuana and drive, or safer to smoke marijuana and drive than it is to use alcohol and drive. The reality is, you’re still impaired.”

That number is increasing every year. Since 2012, the percent of drugged drivers has gone up almost 10%.

“Someone who’s taking a strong stimulant may be speeding, you know 90 to 100 miles an hour, being aggressive on the road. Someone who’s using a narcotic might fall asleep at a stop light or parking lot.”

Stop-DWI says change starts with prevention and education.

The newly allotted funds will allow for more Sheriff's deputies to be out on the streets and assist the program to continue its work with the courts.

“We work with our probation department to help them monitor the repeat offenders who have been sentenced to probation based on their driving history or the incident they were involved in as well as working with them to prevent them from repeating the offense.”

The program can also continue to increase its presence at high schools and colleges, teaching young drivers to never make the choice to get behind the wheel while under the influence.

“I believe this is something we can all agree is a necessary step toward making our community safer.” - Broome County Sheriff David Harder