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Drop in New York DWI Arrests

Authorities have reported a drop in the number of DWI arrests across New York in the past five years. Police have suggested various explanations for the decline in DWI arrests, but drivers should not assume that police have stopped looking for those driving drunk or that prosecutors will not charge people who were arrested for suspicion of DWI.

DWI Arrest Statistics

New York's Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) statistics show that DWI arrests declined across New York by 5.5 percent from 2006-2010. Individual parts of the state mirror the state-wide trend: DWI arrests dropped by eight percent in Queens, six percent in Brooklyn, 8.5 percent in Nassau County and 17 percent in Suffolk County, according to DCJS records.

Perhaps the most stunning decline in DWI occurred in Staten Island. DCJS statistics show that DWI arrests in Staten Island dropped by 37 percent between 2006-2010. In 2006, Staten Island police arrested 667 drivers on suspicion of DWI, and in 2010 the number of arrests fell to 421.

Reasons for the Decrease

Police offer various reasons for the decline in DWI arrests. Some cite budget cuts that have caused lay-offs of more than 5,000 New York Police Department (NYPD) officers since 2002. Others point to the prevalence of the anti-drunk-driving messages put out by groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) causing more people not to drink and drive.

DWI Arrests Still High Priority

Police and prosecutors still make DWI arrests and prosecutions a top priority, despite the fewer number of arrests. Fourteen of the 15 felony DWI convictions in 2009 and 2010 resulted in jail time for the defendant. Most of the other arrests during 2006-2010 resulted in convictions for misdemeanor DWI, according to DCJS records.

With fewer people arrested for DWI, authorities can devote more energy to prosecuting those they do charge with DWI to the fullest extent possible.

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