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Nassau targets drunken driving over holiday weekend

The B.A.T. Mobile will be deployed for the first time this weekend to combat drunken driving in Nassau County.

Unlike its comic-book namesake, the Breath Alcohol Testing Mobile is deadly serious, with its sides plastered with images of the death and carnage drunken drivers can cause.

The boxlike testing space, mounted on a Chevrolet truck chassis, will be parked at an undisclosed location this weekend. Police officers will take drunken drivers there for testing, police and prosecutors said Friday as they rolled out the new vehicle.

"It is not only a testing center, it is also a rolling billboard, a high-visibility deterrence tool to get the message out there," Maureen McCormick, chief of vehicular crimes for the Nassau County district attorney's office, said at a news conference behind police headquarters in Mineola, where the central DWI testing facility remains in operation.

One side of the truck body shows graphic injuries people suffered in drunken driving accidents; the other has a large picture of the 2005 crash in which Katie Flynn, 7, and limo driver Stanley Rabinowitz were killed. Under the picture are the words: "Could you live with yourself?"

The $249,918 vehicle was purchased with a grant obtained by state Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick).

Earlier Friday, county and Red Cross officials held a news conference in front of the main county office building, a block away in Mineola, to urge people to be extra careful this weekend, particularly when it comes to alcohol consumption and when around water.

"Don't drink and swim, and don't drink alcohol if you are supervising children who are swimming," said Mary Ellen Laurain, spokeswoman for the county health department.

Nassau County Legis. Dennis Dunne (R-Levittown), chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said the purpose of the news conference was simply to generate public interest in safety.

"You can't legislate common sense, but you can preach safety," Dunne said.

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