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Senator Says The Number Of Alcohol-Related Traffic Deaths In New York Is Steadily Increasing; Each Year There Are Over 8,000 Alcohol Related Crashes in NY, And Nationwide Someone Is Killed By A Drunk Driver Every 53 Minutes

 Schumer: Since 2009, Drunk Driving Deaths in New York Increased by More Than 14% – From 2011 to 2013 Alone In Capital Region, There Were 69 Drunk Driving-Related Deaths; In Central NY, 98; In Western NY, 102; In Rochester-Finger Lakes, 92; In Southern Tier, 77; In Hudson Valley, 135; In North Country, 60; On Long Island, 192

 Schumer: We Cannot Let Critical STOP-DWI Campaign Funding Lapse

On a conference call with reporters, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today revealed drunk driving-related deaths are steadily increasing throughout New York State. With July 4th  just around the corner, Senator Schumer called for immediate action to help curb the alarming uptick in the number of drunk driving-related deaths, by urging the Senate Commerce Committee to protect and prioritize $7 million in funding for the New York State “STOP-DWI” campaign. Furthermore, Schumer highlighted that without intervention the critical funding will expire in July, and with the already alarming increase in drunk driving-related deaths, New York efforts to prevent drunk driving could be greatly diminished.

“With summer weekends and July 4th right around the corner, now is the time to buckle up against drunk driving. New York State’s ‘STOP-DWI’ program is one of the most effective in the country because it pairs prevention efforts with law enforcement activities, but it is currently in jeopardy because it relies heavily on federal funding that is set to expire this summer. Without its annual funding of $7 million, this worthwhile New York State program could cease to exist, or at the very least have to reduce its efforts, at a time when we need it most. We should extend and increase this critical funding, simply because it helps curb this deadly trend and save lives,” said Senator Schumer.

“Drunk driving is a violent crime that kills 10,000 people across the nation every year,” said Colleen Sheehey-Church, National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “MADD urges continued funding for anti-DWI efforts to help prevent the devastating loss and pain caused by the selfish choice to drive drunk, and appreciates Senator Schumer’s attention to this issue. ”

Schumer said that with July 4th weekend on the horizon, state and local law enforcement are expecting an increased risk of drunk driving-related accidents and fatalities. Schumer said what is even more alarming is the numbers of impaired driving-related deaths has steadily increased in recent years despite the fact that cars are now safer than ever. Between 2009 and 2013, drunk driving-related fatalities increased in New York by 14 percent. In 2011, the number of total deaths in New York State was 328; in 2012, 344; and in 2013, 362. 

During the call, Schumer provided county data on the number of drunk driving related deaths in New York between 2011 and 2013:

-          In the Capital Region, there were 69 total drunk driving-related deaths between 2011    and                2013.

-          In Central New York, there were 98 total drunk driving-related deaths between 2011 and 2013.

-          In Western New York, there were 102 total drunk driving-related deaths between 2011 and                2013.

-          In the Rochester-Finger Lakes, there were 92 total drunk driving-related deaths between 2011            and 2013.

-          In the Southern Tier, there were 77 total drunk driving-related deaths between 2011 and 2013.

-          In the Hudson Valley, there were 135 total drunk driving-related deaths between 2011 and                  2013.

-          In the North Country, there were 60 total drunk driving-related deaths between 2011 and 2013.

-          On Long Island, there were 192 total drunk driving-related deaths between 2011 and 2013.

Schumer argued that it was time to step up efforts to combat drunk driving to meet the challenge of this new upward trend in New York. But if Congress does not pass an extension to the Highway Trust Fund bill by July 31st, the federal funding stream that is used to make repairs to local and state roads and bridges, around the country would lapse; and included in the funding is a federal grant program that provides funding to states for drunk driving prevention programs, called the Impaired Driving Countermeasure Grant Program. Schumer said these programs, which are dependent upon the passage of the highway bill, are critical to helping states and communities bolster their efforts against drunk driving; in New York, it provides approximately $7 million per year in annual funding to its STOP-DWI Campaign. The STOP-DWI campaign provides funding for prevention efforts, including education, sobriety checkpoints, and public service announcements, as well as law enforcement activities, including stricter roadside testing and harsher penalties for those convicted of impaired driving. Therefore, Schumer is pushing his colleagues in Congress to protect and prioritize federal funding for the Impaired Driving Countermeasure Grant Program as his colleagues debate a highway reauthorization bill.

In addition, Schumer said that funding for the Impaired Driving Countermeasure grant program in particular should not only be extended to avoid the program expiring, but it should be increased to keep up with current costs. Schumer said that while New York’s “STOP-DWI” program costs have gone up over time, federal support has not kept pace. Schumer said this program should be a priority that members of both parties can get behind, as it provides for both prevention and police programs to combat drunk driving and save lives each year.