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New campaign to stop driving while impaired

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The Erie County Sheriff's Department has kicked off National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.  A conference and training session was held in Buffalo Tuesday to teach the public about making safe choices when getting behind the wheel.   More and more drivers are being pulled over for not only alcohol use, but drugs and prescription drug abuse.

Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard said he problem is heightened during the holiday season.

"We  are now one week into what is called the holiday period -- about a six week period of time -- running from  the night before Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve -- which, according to a national student, is the most dangerous time of the year to encounter drunk drivers," said Sheriff Howard.

Starting Saturday, December 3rd, drivers will begin to notice a new billboard campaign through out the county urging citizens not to drive impaired or they will get caught.  The billboards read: "Don't drive if  you're tipsy, buzzed or Blitzen.  If you drive impaired, you'll get caught." 

Sheriff Deputies say there are too many fatal accidents involving drunk driving and drug impaired drivers.

Recently ten people were arrested on D-W-I charges and all were under the age of 21. Chief Scott Joslyn said that's alarming.

"And when we start seeing ages of 13, 14 and 16, that's even scarier, but we are seeing these younger, younger ages. It's mind boggling," said Chief Joslyn. 

The Sheriff's Department continues to collaborate with Px 20, an organization that works to prevent substance abuse and mental illness. 

Sheriff Deputy Simon Biegasiewicz is with the Road Patrol Division.  He has trained under a New York State program to identify impaired drivers and what drugs they are using.

"It's unbelievable the amount of poly-drug use, people under the influence of multiple types of drugs," said Deputy Biegasiewicz.  "It's an epidemic."