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State cops crack down on drunken drivers, traffic violators

A little more than a week before Christmas, New York State Police troopers are cracking down on drunken drivers and other motorists who violate safety regulations on Long Island.

Adopting a zero-tolerance approach, Maj. Walter Heesch announced the start of the state police's "Safe Highways = Happy Holidays" campaign. The increased focus on drunken drivers and traffic violators officially began Wednesday.

"The holidays should be joyous occasions with family and friends, but the holiday spirit can quickly turn to sadness and pain if drivers don't make safety their number one priority," said Heesch, commander of Troop L in East Farmingdale. "... I'm asking our troopers to be doubly vigilant in enforcing the vehicle and traffic law for the next couple of weeks."

The campaign is aimed at minimizing travel-related injuries and fatalities during the holiday period. The statewide effort coincides with a national campaign called "Over the Limit, Under Arrest," which unites law-enforcement agencies nationwide between Dec. 16 and Jan. 3. Troopers will hold sobriety and safety restraint checkpoints, and are adding additional patrols during the period.

State police also warn that new penalties are effective Friday for drivers who drive drunk with children. The Child Passenger Protection Act, or Leandra's Law, makes a first offense of driving while intoxicated with a passenger under age 16 a felony offense punishable by up to four years in prison.

The law is named after 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who was killed in an October crash while driving with six young friends and an alleged drunken driver on West Side Highway.

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