A program aimed at keeping drivers who are drunk or impaired during the holidays off the road will be coming to Dutchess County over the next few weeks.

The STOP-DWI program, which is being used across the state, including in Putnam County, will start on Friday in the local area and run until Jan. 2. The program means an increased presence on the roads from the New York State Police, the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office, and local law enforcement agencies during that time.

"While we spend this holiday season celebrating with friends and family and looking forward to the blessings of a new year, we must celebrate responsibly," said Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro.

In an effort to increase safety on the roads, Molinaro encouraged people to make travel arrangements so they can get home from their various celebrations. "One bad decision this season can irrevocably change your life and the lives of others for years to come. The greatest gift you give this holiday season is driving safely without endangering those with whom you share the road."

There were 840 deaths last December attributed to drunk or impaired drivers, and close to 4000 deaths over the past 5 Decembers. Statistics have shown that increased law enforcement presence programs like STOP-DWI  can reduce the risk of fatal crashes by as much as 20%.

The program is run by the New York State STOP-DWI Association with funding from the Governor's Safety Traffic Safety Committee. It is implemented by the STOP-DWI Foundation which has also released an app to help revelers find safe passage home.

"We appreciate the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee for its support of this new technology," said Dutchess County STOP-DWI Coordinator William Johnson. "Whether it's a sobriety checkpoint or the new mobile app, any means that will take impaired drivers off the road and safe residents' lives is a wise investment."

Johnson added, "Actions like these send a clear message to those who may drive impaired this holiday season: Highway safety remains a high priority for our law enforcement officials."

The most important message for motorists, according to Johnson, is that "Throughout Dutchess County, law enforcement, law enforcement will be out in force to identify and apprehend motorists who choose to drive while impaired and risk the safety of fellow drivers."

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