On the Border: Greenwich PD's Drunk Driving Enforcement Efforts

Greenwich Police step up efforts to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road.

Being in a border town, Greenwich Police know well that when it comes closing time for bars, revelers will run the gauntlet to New York State bars so they can continue partying for another hour or two.

So it's not unusual that Greenwich Police have stepped up their driving while intoxicated enforcement efforts along the routes leading into Port Chester, NY.

"We're really focusing on driving while intoxicated — that's one of our goals this year," said Sgt. John Slusarz, head of the department's Traffic Section. "We've seen an increase of accidents including the fatal accident in July on Riversville Road that are alcohol-related."

"Traditionally, we have a strong DWI enforcement. This year you're going to see us out there more," Slusarz said. 

"With bars closing later in New York, people typically travel to keep the party going," said Greenwich Police spokesman Lt. Kraig Gray. "They drive there, part-way ineberiated and at four o'clock, they're drunk."

The department continues to receive state and federal grants for its DWI enforcement which funds stepped up efforts, especially during various holidays throughout the year.

According to Slusarz, the department averages about 100 DWI arrests a year. In 2010, there were 113 arrests; 98 in 2011 and six weeks into 2014, there have been 10 arrests.

Slusarz said there's growing trend of drivers operating under the influence of prescription drugs. Drivers often display the same behavior of drunk drivers but don't have blood alcohol levels when tests by police. "Prescription drug abuse is more dangerous and a little more difficult for officers to detect," Slusarz said.

To be able to better identify drivers under the influence of drugs, Greenwich Police has one officer who is completing a year-long training program to become a drug recognition expert. The officer will be one of only three certified officers in Fairfield County; the other two are Connecticut State Troopers, according to Sluzarz.

"Everybody knows that you have two drinks, you don't drive. But they don't realize that they're on ambien or oxycodone, it affects the reflexes too," Gray explained.

Slusarz said the increased enforcement of driving under the influence laws "is not about convictions. Convictions are not what we're looking for. We're looking to decrease the amount of DWI's on the road."


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