NEW YORK – The New York City Police Department (NYPD), the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) stood outside One Police Plaza today to announce major initiatives to crack down on speeding and drunk driving ahead of the holidays. Agency leaders also announced that New York City will urge passage of state legislation that would lower the legal blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold from .08 to .05%, which is estimated to significantly decrease fatalities in New York State related to driving while intoxicated (DWI).
“The safety of our community is a top priority. As we do each year during the holiday season, we will be deploying our assets with our agency and government partners to ensure that all New York City road users remain safe,” said NYPD Chief of Transportation Kim Y. Royster. “High-visibility enforcement will take place on our highways and local streets during peak times. Our ongoing public education is critically important and will play a large role during this festive season. The NYPD is raising awareness about the dangers of impaired driving and reinforcing the importance of motorists making good choices behind the wheel. Our message is simple. No matter what you drive — a passenger car, pickup, sport utility vehicle, or motorcycle — if you are stopped for driving while impaired, you will be arrested. No exceptions. Officers will be patrolling the city to get more drunk drivers off the road and save lives that might otherwise be lost. Traffic safety is public safety.”
“DOT is dedicated to keeping our streets safe this holiday season and all year long. We are proud to work with our Vision Zero partners on annual holiday enforcement – working to reduce speeding and DWI so everyone who walks, cycles, drives, or travels in New York City can celebrate safely,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “But even with expanded enforcement, too many crashes around the holidays will involve reckless drinking and driving, so we are making a strong call for Albany to reduce the BAC threshold to .05 to save even more lives.”
“As we celebrate the holiday season with friends and family, it’s worth remembering that the upcoming week is always one of the deadliest when it comes to car crashes, largely due to alcohol consumption,” said New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission Chair David Do. “If you are going to be drinking, the easiest way to protect yourself and others is simply not to drive. Hire a cab or a car, make it a present to yourself or your group. In the long run, it could be the most valuable gift you’ll ever give.”
As reported this week, traffic fatalities in New York City are likely to decline this year, stopping increases that began in 2019. This year, pedestrian fatalities were among the lowest in New York City’s recorded history, defying national trends where pedestrian fatalities have risen to their highest levels in four decades.
Today’s Vision Zero announcement includes:
NYPD Holiday Enforcement: NYPD will be actively enforcing laws against speeding and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) throughout the holiday season and beyond. Enforcement will occur along highways and on local streets where excessive speeds have been observed, including by DOT speed cameras. Enforcement will be conducted by NYPD Highway Patrol as well as by local precincts, each of which now has a radar detector.
Reducing the BAC Threshold: More than 30% of crashes in New York State involve alcohol. The share of traffic fatalities in New York City related to Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) has increased dramatically, reflecting disturbing pandemic trends involving alcohol consumption: in 2021, 43 traffic fatalities were directly tied to DWI, a 60 percent increase over the prior 3-year average of 27 fatalities.
As part of its legislative agenda to combat dangerous and reckless driving, New York City will advocate in Albany for state legislation that would lower the DWI threshold from .08 to .05%, aligning New York with peer countries across the world — including Australia, Argentina, France, Ireland, and the Netherlands. At a .05 BAC, a person may not feel drunk, but they are still impaired for essential safe driving tasks. Research shows lowering the threshold to .05 could lead to an estimated over 10 percent decrease in DWI fatalities across New York State. In the last Albany legislative session, Senator John Liu and Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon sponsored a bill (S131/A7197) that would lower the threshold to .05.
“There is no simpler way to reduce the number of lives destroyed by drunk driving than to keep drivers from getting behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking. Plain and simple — reducing the legal blood alcohol content from .08 to .05 will save lives,” said State Senator John Liu. “Over 100 countries around the world have already taken this step. With the combined support of Mayor Adams, law enforcement, and thousands of advocates like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, we can ensure New York leads the way here in America to keep our streets safe and our families whole. ”
“I applaud Mayor Adams for tackling drunk driving and ensuring that New Yorkers are safe this holiday season. More than a third of crashes in New York State involve alcohol, but there is a low-cost, straightforward policy change that will help—lowering the blood alcohol content from .08 to .05%,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. “I sponsor a bill to lower the BAC threshold in New York State to align with countries across the world, and I’m so pleased to have the support of Mayor Adams in this endeavor.”
“Ensuring protection for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists using our city streets becomes even more important during the holiday season,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. “I thank our partners in city government for taking these proactive steps and advocating for this legislation, and we will work together to keep our streets free of dangerous crashes that result from drunk and reckless driving.”
“Fewer choices are more selfish than getting behind the wheel drunk, under the influence of drugs, or without a valid driver’s license,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz. “In Queens County, my office holds accountable those who choose to disregard the rules of the road and break the law. We will continue to work with our city agency and law enforcement partners to ensure safety on our streets. With the holiday season upon us, let us all remember that, when we are driving, everyone we encounter on the road—other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists—deserves our respect and consideration and has every right to reach their destination safely.”
“Fighting vehicular violence is an important priority for my Office and we will work together with the NYPD to hold unlawful drivers accountable so our streets and roadways are safe,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. “I urge all New Yorkers to drive sober and to obey all traffic laws during the upcoming holidays and every day.”
“Pedestrians and drivers alike deserve safe streets, free of drunk driving and risky speeding,” said NYC Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “I applaud the Administration for honoring its commitment to street safety and emphasizing enforcement this holiday season and beyond.”
“Of the 221 traffic fatalities that occurred in New York City this year 53 were in my home borough of The Bronx,” said NYC City Council Member Amanda Farias.” With more than 30% of crashes in New York State involving drunk driving — it is heartbreaking to think of how many Bronxites have lost their lives because of those who recklessly drive under the influence. Traffic fatalities are preventable if we are proactive. I am glad to see the city taking action on increasing road safety for all New Yorkers.”
“Mothers Against Drunk Driving stands with our New York City partners to urge everyone to make the right choice to never drive while impaired by alcohol or other drugs this holiday season and always. We thank law enforcement who will be on patrol during this busy time of year for keeping our roads safe,” said Shawn Hirst, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Regional Executive Director New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. “To further help prevent deaths and injuries caused by the 100% preventable crime of drunk driving, MADD will join with this team again in the coming months to advocate for lowering the state of New York’s BAC law to .05. It will take every one of us to reach our ultimate goal of no more victims.”
“A lower limit DWI law is an evidenced based proven countermeasure that will save lives in New York by deterring people from driving at all BAC levels,” said Thomas M. Louizou, Co-founder of .05 Saves Lives Coalition. “It’s not about drinking. It’s about separating drinking from driving.”
“We strongly support the Adams Administration’s initiative to lower the legal blood-alcohol concentration in New York State to 0.05%. The stigma against driving while intoxicated has seemingly waned during the pandemic, with persons driving under the influence causing more and deadlier crashes. Successfully lowering the legal threshold will help make our streets and roads safer,” said Eric McClure, Executive Director of StreetsPAC. “We also applaud the stepped-up effort to combat speeding and drunk driving during the holiday season. Serious-injury and fatal crashes are always tragic, but they feel even more so at what should be a festive time of year. We hope this initiative will help keep New York City on track for a reduction in traffic fatalities in 2022.”
“What better way to welcome this holiday season than with this important initiative to save lives by cracking down on speeding and drunk driving,” said Ken Podziba, President & CEO of Bike New York. “We’re thankful to DOT, NYPD, TLC, DOHMH, and Senators Liu and Simon for their leadership in making this improved enforcement—which will undoubtedly make our streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists—a reality.”