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Memorial Day checkpoints begin with 10 arrests, police say

Police at a sobriety checkpoint Friday night in

Police at a sobriety checkpoint Friday night in Patchogue. Credit: Stringer News Service

Long Island law enforcement officers kicked off sobriety enforcement for the long holiday weekend with 10 arrests at a checkpoint Friday night into Saturday morning in Patchogue, police said.

Police screened 727 vehicles and arrested nine people charged with driving while intoxicated, police said. One man was arrested and charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs. The 10 people charged were set to be arraigned Saturday morning at First District Court in Central Islip.

Suffolk County police and State Police held the checkpoint at Waverly Avenue and the North Service Road of Sunrise Highway.

From the roads to the open waters, Nassau, Suffolk and State Police will all be out in full force looking for motorists and boaters under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Each said they are increasing their DWI patrols.

Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said the department will conduct checkpoints and increase patrols through the weekend targeting intoxicated motorists, aggressive drivers and seat belt infractions. Officers will also be on foot, bicycles and ATVs, Hart said.

“The Suffolk County Police Department will have an increased presence on the roadways and waterways this holiday weekend to apprehend those who operate a vehicle or boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” Hart said in a statement.

Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini said members of the office’s East End DWI Task Force will be deployed at strategic locations in high-traffic areas to conduct field sobriety tests if they believe a motorist has been drinking or using drugs.

The task force includes law enforcement from 10 towns and villages on Suffolk’s East End, as well as members of Suffolk and State police and the county’s sheriff’s office.

“The members of the District Attorney’s Office do not want to see you in court Saturday, Sunday or Monday morning for an arraignment,” Sini said. “We want you to be home with your families.”

Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said in a statement that, “Memorial Day and the holiday weekend prior often lends itself to senseless tragic accidents, injuries and deaths due to the operation of vehicles and boats while under the influence of alcohol.”

Funding for Nassau and Suffolk’s increased patrols come from the state’s Traffic Safety Committee Safe Driving Enforcement grant and Stop-DWI grant, officials said.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday said motorists across the state can expect sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols by both marked and unmarked State Police vehicles.

“Impaired driving is reckless, dangerous and a crime, and state and local law enforcement will be out in full force to keep our roadways safe,” Cuomo said in a statement.

On Memorial Day weekend last year, troopers arrested 237 people for driving under the influence, issued 12,169 tickets, and investigated 146 vehicle crashes that resulted in 190 people injured, state officials said.

Meanwhile, waterfront towns such as Huntington, Islip, Oyster Bay and Hempstead announced they will increase their boating while intoxicated patrols.

“Be smart. Do not consume alcoholic products if you are operating a boat or car,” Tara Spohrer, a program manager with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said during a news conference Thursday announcing increased BWI patrols on the Long Island Sound, Oyster Bay Harbor and the Great South Bay.

Nassau Police Det. Maureen Roach said the department’s Marine Bureau will add extra boats on the south and north shores this weekend.

With John Asbury

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