Special Traffic Operations Program for Driving While Intoxicated (STOP-DWI)
The state Legislature enacted the STOP-DWI program in 1981 for the purpose of empowering the coordinating of local efforts to reduce alcohol and other drug related traffic crashes within the context of a comprehensive and financially self-sustaining statewide alcohol and highway safety program.
The STOP-DWI legislation permits each county to establish a county STOP-DWI Program. Which qualifies the county for the return of all fines collected for alcohol and drug related traffic offenses occurring in its jurisdiction.
The success of the STOP-DWI program is attributed to numerous factors but none as important as its focus. As well, the program's self-sufficiency allows it to operate freely of local budget constraints helping maintain a continuous high profile and comprehensive program that is in a position to continually renew and adjust strategies to maintain a high level of viability and functionality.
The objective of the STOP-DWI program is to improve the quality of life for the residents of Rensselaer County by increasing public safety. A goal achieved by reducing alcohol and other drug-related injuries and fatalities by targeting alcohol and drug use through the creation and funding of programs relating to enforcement, prosecution, probation, rehabilitation, public information, and administration.
The Rensselaer County STOP-DWI program develops and coordinates a comprehensive DWI countermeasures program with the focus placed on deterrence. Functionally, on the enforcement side, the Rensselaer County STOP-DWI program enters into contracts with all law enforcement agencies in the county to fund overtime money for extra DWI patrols and provides necessary tools including specialized breath testing equipment to police agencies. STOP-DWI also provides funding for positions with the Rensselaer County Probation Department to oversee DWI offenders.
Educating the Public
In order to educate the public about the dangers of drunk driving, the amplified certainty of arrest and increased penalties an individual face if convicted are frequently distributed through various avenues including local media outlets and presentations held throughout the County. The presentations focus varies from vendor training on their responsibilities under New York State Law to personal responsibility when it comes to the consumption of alcohol all aimed at preventing drunk driving. The STOP-DWI program works with local middle and high school SADD Chapters to conduct many of these outreach programs, focusing on community based education, and awareness efforts. The Rensselaer County STOP-DWI program also contracts with Hudson Mohawk Recovery Center for the PAT program, as well as RID-USA for five Victim Impact Panels.
Rensselaer County Underage Drinking Coalition
The Rensselaer County Underage Drinking Coalition was formed in 2001, by County Executive Kathleen M. Jimino, when statistics showed the Underage DWI arrest rate in the County was twice the rate of the States average. The coalition was assembled to create a linkage between schools, treatment providers, county human service departments, and the community to reduce substance abuse among our youth.
The Coalition coordinates Youth Summits to teach youth about substance abuse initiatives. Law enforcement members of the Coalition have performed DWI sweeps, compliance checks and have done party patrols to break up underage drinking/drug parties. Merchant trainings have been done to educate merchants and bar owners on how to protect themselves against underage purchasers. The Coalition has issued press releases, designed billboards and met with the press about issues of drugs and alcohol use by youth in our community. The Coalition supports and provides educational information to parents about providing alcohol to minors through the Parents Who Host Lose The Most initiative.