Suffolk DA: New DWI strategy nets more arrests

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota stands with

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota stands with law enforcement personnel from a host of East End agencies to announce the success of the summer DWI program at the Coast Guard Station Shinnecock in Hampton Bays, N.Y. (Sept. 14, 2012) (Credit: Newsday/Ed Betz)

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Coordinated efforts of local, county, state and federal agencies on the East End to get intoxicated drivers off the road resulted in 196 arrests since the end of May, and will prompt a similar program for drunken boating.

"The very worst part of policing is bearing the burden of knocking on the front door delivering the terrible tragic news that a spouse, a child, a loved one, has been torn from their lives by senseless and reckless behavior," Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said at a news conference Friday at the U.S. Coast Guard station in Hampton Bays.

Spota was joined by chiefs and officers from East End police departments, the Coast Guard, sheriff's office, State Police and Suffolk police.

Those arrested faced charges including driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence of drugs, and a small number for driving with no license.

The busiest weekend for arrests was July 21 and 22, when 32 drunken-driving arrests, and six arrests for driving while impaired were made. The program will continue through year's end, Spota said, with emphasis on holidays.

The initiative was so successful, he said, that the task force will use it as a model for a program to combat boating while intoxicated. Spota announced earlier this week a grand jury charged Brian Andreski, 26, of Dix Hills, with aggravated vehicular homicide in a Great South Bay boat crash that left a father of two children dead.

There were three BWI arrests on the East End during the summer. Countywide, there were 15 BWI arrests in the past year, Spota said, compared with 12 in the previous three years.

During the summer, the task force set up "saturation points," where officers covered particular areas in larger numbers, and checkpoints.

In addition, officers worked outside their own jurisdictions. Spota had task force members sworn in as special investigators so they could do this. Some costs for the task force, such as overtime, were covered by $30,000 from state grants and fines collected through the county's Stop DWI program, and $80,000 from the district attorney's office through its asset-forfeiture fund.

Spota said in May that he was working with 17 East End law enforcement agencies to pool resources and enforce drunken-driving laws. At the time, he said, "In Sag Harbor, you might see officers from Quogue, Southampton Town or Southampton Village."

With Joseph Mallia

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