The Special Traffic Options Program for Driving While Intoxicated (STOP-DWI) is a comprehensive program designed specifically to reduce the incidence of alcohol-related traffic fatalities and injuries in New York State. County governments are empowered by state law to develop and implement a yearly plan of action that addresses impaired enforcement, prosecution, probation, rehabilitation, public information and education. STOP-DWI administration includes the Coordinator and a Highway Safety Program Manager. In Suffolk County, the program is administered by this small staff and is 100% supported by the fines that are collected from individuals that are convicted of alcohol and/or drug related traffic infractions.
Spending for enforcement comprises the largest share of Suffolk County’s STOP-DWI budget. The threat of arrest and prosecution remains the strongest deterrents utilized to reduce drunk driving. More than 64% of the budget is earmarked for DWI enforcement by the Suffolk County Police Department, as well as 12 Town and Village Police agencies. The Selective Alcohol Fatality Enforcement Task Force (SAFE-T) continues to operate out of the Suffolk County Highway Patrol Bureau and is exclusively funded by the STOP-DWI program. The SAFE-T unit consists of 9 officers and 1 sergeant. Patrols are conducted Tuesday through Saturday nights and are solely dedicated to DWI enforcement. These officers generate hundreds of arrests per year and often lead DWI enforcement training exercises countywide.
The STOP-DWI program continues to support the vigorous prosecution of DWI offenders by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. To support their efforts, the STOP-DWI office provides funding for 2 full-time assistant district attorneys (ADAs) who prosecute only DWI related cases.
Stop Repeat Offenders
Suffolk’s landmark Probation Alcohol Treatment (PAT) program is the basis for our funding of probation officers with DWI caseloads. The PAT Program is specifically designed for recidivist DWI offenders. The goals are to reduce the numbers of chronic, recidivist DWI offenders and to diminish the incidence of alcohol-related injuries. Probation officers in the PAT program work in collaboration with treatment providers in treating the offender’s addiction to reduce the likelihood of future criminal behavior.
Reducing the recidivism rates of DWI offenders is an important part of Suffolk County’s plan. The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office operates the DWI Alternative Facility in Riverhead, NY. The facility was built in 1986 with STOP-DWI funds and continues to prove its effectiveness in treating recidivist DWI offenders and substance abusers. Although still part of the jail population, DWI offenders and substance abusers who are admitted into the facility are housed separately from the rest of the Suffolk County jail population. Staffing at the facility includes correction officers and treatment staff. STOP-DWI funds the salaries of 3 Correction Treatment Officers. The facility houses both male and female offenders and sentencing averages 60-75 days. However, some may stay for as long as six months. The goal of the DWI facility is to reduce the recidivism rates of DWI and substance abusing offenders by providing intensive substance abuse treatment services.
Suffolk County STOP-DWI historically contracts with professional advertising agencies to ensure high-quality and effective media campaigns. The STOP-DWI Coordinator and Highway Safety Program Manager also devote time to public information and education projects through radio, television and newspaper interviews, school and civic organization meetings. In addition, Eastern Suffolk BOCES, under contract, is continuing its program of conducting various education programs in Suffolk’s five East End towns: Riverhead, Southold, Southampton, East Hampton and Shelter Island. Lastly, the STOP-DWI office works jointly with the Long Island Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to increase public awareness and knowledge about the devastating effects drunk driving crashes have on its victims.