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Long Beach adopts aggressive stand toward drunken drivers

Madeline Singas, acting Nassau County district attorney, announces

Madeline Singas, acting Nassau County district attorney, announces the details of an enhanced drunk driving enforcement program that went into effect in Long Beach for the Fourth of July holiday weekend at the Long Beach Police Department on Thursday, July 2, 2015. Photo Credit: Angela Datre

Long Beach police will increase drunken driving patrols this weekend for the city's annual fireworks show and arts and crafts festival, as arrests from the July Fourth weekend show more out-of-towners were charged with drinking and driving than city residents.

Police officials said they arrested 10 people on driving while intoxicated charges over the holiday weekend, beginning last Friday. Of those 10, two were Long Beach residents.

"You're welcome to have fun here, but if you drink and drive, you will go to jail," said Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney, 59, a lifelong city resident. "A very common expression in our jail cells is, 'I knew I shouldn't drink and drive in Long Beach.' . . . The ones from out of town don't know how strict it is here."

Three roving police cars along with regular patrols checked about 250 cars for DWI violations this past weekend as part of the city's heightened enforcement program. The police plan to launch at least three roving cars to supplement their regular patrol units during this weekend's events, which include the fireworks show.

Thomas Tomasello, 29, has been working for eight years at The Inn, a popular bar among the nearly 10 bars in Long Beach's west end. He lives three blocks from the building and says that many customers don't drink and drive because they also live nearby.

"It's the out-of-towners who more so probably do it, I would say," Tomasello said. "Why would a local drive home? . . . You can walk to every bar down here."

Eight of the 10 DWI arrests this past weekend happened in areas near the center of town or toward the east end. Tangney said residents should look out for drunken drivers, many of whom may come from the west end after drinking.

Daniel Magill, 78, of Long Beach, said that a drunken driver almost hit him after he walked out of a deli near Magnolia Boulevard in the center of town. The middle of the city is where many of this weekend's festivities will take place.

"It's gotten wilder," Magill said. "Kids are out of hand and there are a lot of kids who drink and are underage . . . They [Police] are nailing them left and right."

For Friday's fireworks show, free shuttle buses will run from both the east and west ends of the city to transport people to and from the festival between 7 and 11 p.m.

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