DA: DWI Task Force a Success; BWI Enforcement Is Next

Multi-agency enforcement effort will take on boating while intoxicated.

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.


E. Trillo September 14, 2012 at 08:12 PM
I would like to see this task force spend some time addressing the illegal alian problem instead of chasing all the people trying to enjoy their weekends in the Hamptons. The police should be looking for traffic violations and if they result in finding a drunk driver thats good. To set up road blocks and stopping every boat that goes thru the canal etc. reminds me of why we asked the Russians to take down the Berlin Wall.
Roger Blaugh September 14, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Excellent work and not a moment too soon. While most boaters are responsible and have a sober person at the helm, there are those who don't get the message and it's up to law enforcement to drive the point home. Also, the Suffolk County Legislature has PASSED a law requiring boaters to pass a boating safety course such as those given by the US Power Squadron and US Coast Guard Auxiliary; both superb training organizations. Look for a Boating Safety Class, also called the ABC Boating class, and take it before the spring-time rush.
Jerry Can September 14, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Maybe Mr. Spota could get get some of his Suffolk County police helicopters to monitor the helicopter traffic over the island and make sure they are obeying the law. Seems like there is no enforcement of those rules.
Walter Noller September 14, 2012 at 11:12 PM
"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."" That's called slick accounting by a slick politician. While everyone needs to be accountable for their actions, the case of a few does not give government the right to question everyone to see if their doing something improper. This also goes beyond the interaction with law enforcement. The driver pays higher insurance, may have to put (pay for) a device in their car to "prove" they're sober (a cottage industry in itself), there's legal fees to lawyers and it may even effect your job (in a bad economy, don't give any boss reason to get rid of you for someone else). There's a whole lot of things effecting the economics of anyone "caught". That said, an a$$ will forever be an a$$. That doesn't mean everyone risks having to prove otherwise. While there are serious drunks behind the wheel that need to be responded to, I wonder the number who would have gotten home with no difficulty and now have their lives ruined and their wallets bleeding money. Over two thirds of all accidents are NOT alcohol related. When is the task force going to do something about that? Give some honest folks something positive for a change.
Mark Wayne September 15, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Your comments make me sick. ".While there are serious drunks behind the wheel that need to be responded to, I wonder the number who would have gotten home with no difficulty and now have their lives ruined and their wallets bleeding money." Anyone drinking and driving should be sent right to jail before they kill someone . And if you have any doubt , attend a MADD meeting. Drunk drivers kill and they kill in your words "honest folk". Thank God for this new task force!!!!
Mark Wayne September 15, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Hopefully....This new Task force prevents guys like this from killing future victims. John Pappias, 47, of Northport was arrested by Northport Police on Aug. 31 and charged with driving while under the influence and consumption of alcoholic beverages. According to police, an officer on patrol found Pappias parked in a HART bus stop on Main Street allegedly passed out at the wheel with the car in drive. He reportedly had blood shot eyes, slurred speach, slow and uncoordinated movements and the odor of alcohol on his breath. He was also unsteady on his feet during a field interview and performed poorly on several field sobriety tests. Pappias refused a breath test and was arrested. He is still in court facing felony hit and run charges for an October 2011 crash that killed a construction worker on Fort Salonga Road. He pled not guilty to those charges in February and will have his next court date on Sept. 19. Related Topics: DWI, Fort Salonga hit and run, and John Pappias Email me updates about this story. Email Print Submit tip 1 Comment John K Massaro 5:42 pm on Monday, September 10, 2012 Ron White was right - You just can't fix stupid... Reply Leave a comment
margaret September 15, 2012 at 12:59 AM
I find it interesting that each person that get charged pleas NOT guilty. You know you were drunk, plead guilty then you can stop complaining about all the stuff Walter writes about. As for other people that have been injured or murdered by a drunk or drugged driver-believe me, their expensives are alot more along with losing a love one that can NEVER be replaced. So if you drink then drive-that's your choice..STOP complaining, you made that CHOICE. To Suffolk DA and all LEO, thank you and be safe out there, drunks are everywhere
Walter Noller September 15, 2012 at 04:48 AM
@ Mark. You simply don't get what I've said. But I'll tell you one thing that is certain, our rights are being taken away every day with the likes of those who think they need government to curtail human behavior. MADD, while it initially had a positive influence in getting awareness about drinking and driving, has become near vigilante in their vigor as a powerful, big buck lobbyist group. They were the one's responsible for lowering the legal limit to.08 and had the federal gov't. enforce that by holding back funding to states that did not comply. Strong arm tactics. Meanwhile, our freedoms are being eroded and all for those who will never comply, not matter what is done. If you think you'll be able to stop those who are the real problem drunk drivers from causing horrific accidents by way of storm troop tactics, you're a lot sicker than you give me credit in providing you. More thoughts.... I'm against drinking and driving but also all for personal responsibility but when I see undue influence, I follow the money... MADD's got a lot of it and an agenda that is creating a more effective prohabition than was ever witnessed during the 20's-30's.. And those in politics need to prove their worth and salary by getting people to believe they're doing something good... but for who?
Jaguar-Guy September 15, 2012 at 09:42 AM
I fully support the implementationa and continuance of these programs. They've donated $80,000 from siezed property to cover their over-time and no matter the cost, we must keep our roads and waterways safe. I always appreciate all the drunk driving arrests noted, and will continue to appreciate them along with BWI arrests and prosecutions. I believe that it is not slick accounting, it is very importantly saving lives.
Bill September 15, 2012 at 11:01 AM
If all the outspoken drunks and conspiracy theorists who have commented above lost someone to a drunk driver they would quickly forget about their unquantified thoughts on politics, money, and the infantile excuse that most people make it home safe after drinking. I never seen so many self righteous irresponsible mindsets in any other region of New York. Wake up.
ADAM LLOYD September 15, 2012 at 12:33 PM
cm September 15, 2012 at 02:58 PM
All patrol cars are in watermill but they did give 2 to Flanders/Riverside. Hope that helps.....
Drtee-Dancer September 15, 2012 at 03:49 PM
I'm alcolholc in recovery - been sober since Sept. 7, 2007 - spent 1 year in jail (Yaphank) due to my actions on driving an automobile. Learned quite a bit about sobriety by being in jail. Very fortunate ( & I say very fortunate) I never hurt or harmed anyone. To this day, I suffer from low self esteem. I commend Southampton Village, Sag Harbor Village & East Hampton Town Police Depts. in the way they handled this miserable drunk.
Walter Noller September 15, 2012 at 06:24 PM
@Bill... Your calling names is totally uncalled for. The fact is anyone who loses a loved one via a motor vehicle or any accident will feel the pain of their loss forever and gets my sympathy. But it's not just from drunks and the numbers prove that. Good driving habits help and most just simply adhere to them. Over 66% of highway deaths are from other factors and many are due to people just not knowing how to drive or how to respond to potential danger, many times over reacting or just being unaware of the dangers they put themselves in. If you want to use numbers, you can make them work to your advantage. I still say a positive influence in ones' driving habits makes for safe roads. When was the last time you took a defensive driving course? The money used to teach "drunks a lesson" could as easily be used to teach a course... A positive. I am concerned about the over use of law enforcement and the fact this untimately effects our freedoms. Think of it this way, the most dangerous thing we all feel we're entitled to use is a car and yet many simply drive poorly and do nothing to undo their lack of knowledge. It's not opinion on this point, it's years of teaching defensive driving from which I speak.


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