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Drunk driving arrests still too common, sheriff says

Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard.
WBFO News file photo
Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard.

Just about every day, an Erie County deputy sheriff makes a drunken driving arrest. Sheriff Tim Howard says his deputies are on track for the fourth year in a row of making more than 300 such arrests. The big bust over the weekend was on Friday on the Seneca Cattaraugus Territory with a 17-year-old being charged with drunken driving, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and a slew of other counts. That was the 109th arrest of the year.

About half the arrests follow an accident, part of a long pattern. Sheriff Howard says one difference this year is more arrests in Buffalo, along with the usual arrests out in the county in the usual patrol areas.

"We have people working in the Safe Streets Projects here," Howard says. "Buffalo police are so busy answering all of their complaints that sometimes they don't have time to do the proactive. So, we have an increased number of arrests this year in the city," Howard says.

While drinkers can get taxis to go home, that's less likely in the more rural areas of the county. Sheriff Howard says he favors some sort of a gift card so a person who drank too much can use it to pay for a cab.

With felony drunken driving the most charged crime in the county, he says anything would help.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.