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DWI arrests increase despite ride hailing's arrival

Chris Caya WBFO News

Supporters of ride hailing say the low-cost way of getting around will reduce drunk driving. But in Erie County, the number of recent DWI arrests has gone up. 

Ride hailing companies, Uber and Lyft, began operating across Upstate, NY, last summer. But, according to Erie County's STOP DWI Office, there was 666 DWI arrests during the first quarter of 2018, a 2% increase, compared to the same period last year. So, Commissioner of Central Police Services, Jim Jancewicz says, before people go out celebrating they need to have a plan.

Credit Chris Caya WBFO News
E.C. Commissioner of Central Police Services James Jancewicz speaking to reporters on the 16th Floor of the Rath Building.

"It's that simple. Have a plan. Talk about it with the others that you're going to be out celebrating with. How you're going to get home. Whether it's ride sharing, whether it's a taxi service, whether it's one of the other tools that are out there, whether it's a designated driver. Whatever it is, have a plan. Talk about it and stick to the plan. Be responsible," Jancewicz said.

His message is being echoed by Bronte Williams who lost her 21-year old son Jireh to a drunk driver on the Kensington Expressway, in 2013. Williams, a member of the County's Victim Impact Panel says, she tells her story because she wants to make a difference and most people can't imagine what it's like to have a loved one killed by a drunk driver.
"And that's why I do what I do. To really put a face to it so you can see that it's a family, it's people, it's human it's somebody real. It's hundreds of people being effected. Hundreds of people being effected by one senseless act," Williams said.

Credit Chris Caya WBFO News
Erie County DWI Victim Impact Panel member Bronte Williams

County Executive Mark Poloncarz says he's disappointed in the increase. But, Poloncarz says, it's too early to know what impact ride hailing may have on DWIs.