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Erie County Sheriff stepping up DWI enforcement efforts

HAMBURG — The Erie County Sheriff’s Office has announced plans to step up its efforts this holiday season, in an attempt to keep residents safe from impaired and drunk drivers.

Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard said that his department will be increasing its driving while intoxicated enforcement everts, throughout the holiday season, with sobriety checkpoints and party patrols.

President Barack Obama has proclaimed December as national impaired driving prevention month.

The local sheriff’s department is partnering with Western New York United Against Drug & Alcohol Abuse, the state police, Hamburg Police Department and other local law enforcement and prevention agencies, in a stated effort of helping to shed light on this topic.

According to Howard, these collaborative efforts in Erie County are meant to target impaired driving and underage drinking, to keep kids and families safe.

Howard recently addressed local residents at The Fairground’s Festival of Lights.

“The holiday season is a crucial time of year for those of us involved with the promotion of good mental health and the prevention of alcohol and other drug abuse,” he said, citing the combination of inclement weather, increased hours of darkness and the prevalence of events that feature alcohol use, to make roadways more dangerous.

He also noted that loneliness, stress, anxiety and seasonal depression, during the holidays, often cause individuals to drink excessive amounts of alcohol or misuse prescription drugs.

“Though we have made great strides in this area, too many people continue to drive while impaired, as a result of alcohol or prescription drug abuse,” he said. “Too many people die in crashes resulting from this dangerous behavior.”

Howard said that, during the holiday season, Americans join with family, friends and neighbors to take part in long-standing traditions.

“For some, those celebrations are tempered by the absence of loved ones taken too soon in traffic crashes involving drugs or alcohol, or caused by distracted driving,” he said. “During national impaired driving prevention month, we dedicate ourselves to saving lives and eliminating drunk, drugged and distracted driving.”

The sheriff reminded area residents about the department’s holiday-themed billboard, which is currently in 16 locations throughout the county.

Throughout the holiday season, the sheriff’s office will be increasing its DWI enforcement effort, through sobriety checkpoints and party patrols.

“We also encourage everyone to use the Erie County underage drinking tip line, an anonymous and confidential way to report underage drinking activities,” Howard said. That number is 1-800-851-1932.

“I want to applaud the efforts of all of the other Px20 member agencies in their commitment to our coordinated prevention activities,” the sheriff said. “I would also like to encourage everyone to participate in safe celebrations.

“Let’s make this holiday season one that emphasizes friends and family and safe celebrations.”

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