The Nassau County Police Department and district attorney will spend $400,000 on overtime for more DWI patrols beginning Memorial Day weekend and through the end of the summer, officials said Thursday.
Besides the Nassau police Selective Enforcement Team who are assigned regularly to DWI duty, more patrol officers will staff enforcement using 5,000 hours of overtime paid for through asset forfeiture funds, acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said.
"That will not be charged to the taxpayers," Krumpter said. "The criminals are going to pay for enforcement through the asset forfeiture funds."
Nassau and local departments, including Hempstead, Garden City, Port Washington, Rockville Centre and Old Westbury, will also split $180,000 in state grant money for more DWI patrols this summer.
Suffolk police's chief of patrol has also directed officers to intensify DWI patrols this holiday weekend -- enforcement funded with similar state grant monies, said Deputy Chief Kevin Fallon, a department spokesman.
Nassau resurrected SET last year, following a Newsday report that DWI arrests had steeply declined after it was disbanded in 2011. SET officers made an average 2,641 DWI arrests from 2008 to 2011. When the unit shut down, DWI arrests went from 1,853 in 2012 to 1,545 in 2013.
Thursday, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said the county has taken an aggressive stance against DWI, citing more than 700 DWI arrests this year and 2,477 last year, when 18 people died in DWI cases in Nassau.
"You make an unwise decision, the police behind me here will be out there to take you home in a patrol car," said Mangano, before adding: "We will not be taking you home, they'll be taking you here," meaning the police department.
Meanwhile, acting District Attorney Madeline Singas called on the state Department of Motor Vehicles to assign points to the driver's licenses of those convicted of DWI.
"It's unfathomable to me that you can get six points for driving more than 20 miles above the speed limit, and get zero for a DWI," Singas said.
Joseph Morrissey, a DMV spokesman, said in an email: "The DMV doesn't comment on proposals we haven't seen. When they send it, we'll review it." He added: "All alcohol-related convictions, including DWI, result in a mandatory license suspension or revocation."
Last Memorial Day weekend, the Island's three major law enforcement agencies made 128 drunken-driving arrests. In 2013, the agencies made 132 DWI arrests.
Marge Lee, president of the anti-drunken driving group DEDICATEDD, reminded Memorial Day revelers that the "patriotic" day is to "remember those heroes" and to not be "dummies" who drink and drive.