The heads of several village, town, county and state level law enforcement agencies — as well as the U.S. Coast Guard — joined Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota on Friday afternoon in Hampton Bays to laud the success of the new East End DWI Task Force — and announce that the joint effort will now extend to the water.
Spota in late May, just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Since then, it's been a busy summer for police officers who Spota deputized so they could cross jurisdictions for drunk and drugged driving crackdowns. Spota said Friday that scores of drivers under the influence were arrested throughout the East End since Memorial Day, thanks to the task force, making the roads safer for residents and summer visitors.
Just over Labor Day weekend, the task force made 19 DWI arrests, two for driving while impaired and three for drug possession, Spota said. And on June 23, during a weekend when many high school seniors were celebrating graduation, he said, there were 26 DWIs, six impaired drivers and five drug arrests.
With the backdrop of the Shinnecock Bay, Spota said at during a press conference that the DWI task force will continue its efforts throughout the year, including during the holiday season. And now, with the aid of the Coast Guard and marine divisions of East End law enforcement agencies, the task force will take to the local bays to crack down on boating while intoxicated.
To illustrate the dangers of boating while intoxicated, Spota pointed to an that killed a West Islip father.
"As aggressive as we are on the land, we should be on the water," Spota said.
Taxpayers do not bear any of the costs of the DWI task force and will not pay for new stepped up enforcement on the water, he said. "The residents of the East End will not pay a nickel."
To cover police overtime costs, his office has contributed $80,000 that was collected through criminal asset forfeiture, Spota said.
Suffolk County STOP-DWI — or Special Traffic Options Program for Driving While Intoxicated — put in another $30,000, which was raised through fines collected from drunk drivers, said Doug Death, the highway safety program manager for Suffolk.