I-Team: Suffolk County Has Most Alcohol-Related Crashes in State

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Long Island's Suffolk County had more alcohol-related crashes than any other county in the state from 2010 to 2012, hundreds more than its immediate neighbor, an I-Team analysis has found. (Published Monday, Feb 24, 2014)

    Long Island's Suffolk County had more alcohol-related crashes than any other county in the state from 2010 to 2012, hundreds more than its immediate neighbor, an I-Team analysis has found.

    The records from the New York State Department of Transportation also show that the Brentwood zip code of 11717 had the most crashes of any zip code in NBC 4 New York's viewing area, with 132 alcohol-related crashes in that time.  
    Records show that Suffolk had 3,561 crashes, compared with Nassau County's 2,366. The top New York City borough was Brooklyn, with 1,728.
    Dorothy Stewart's daughter, Laura Avrams, was among those killed in a Long Island drunk driving accident in 2010.
    “I knew right way that she was gone, it made me very angry,” said Stewart.  
    The Bay Shore woman was riding in the passenger seat of a car driven by her fiance, heading south on Brentwood Road, when 20-year-old Luis Lazo swerved into their lane from the opposite direction.
    The force of the crash sent the couple's car into a pole, and Avram's head went through the passenger-side window.
    Lazo is serving a sentence of 2 to 6 years.
    Suffolk Police say several factors may contribute to the high number of drunk driving crashes, including numerous bars and restaurants.
    “We have the most cars registered in the state. We have 1.5 million people and we have a great deal of roadways in mileage," Deputy Inspector Stan Grodzki told NBC 4 New York. "Couple that with limited mass transit, and you’ve got a problem."
    The Suffolk Police Department has a unit of officers dedicated to catching drunk drivers. They sometimes run DWI checkpoints, but more often, they concentrate patrols in areas with high numbers of crashes..
    They choose these areas based on the same data that the I-Team used to determine where most alcohol-related crashes occur.
    The I-Team also looked at numbers from the New Jersey Department of Transportation and found that Bergen County was the worst for drunk driving crashes, leading the state with 2,474 crashes between 2010 and 2013.
    One of the most dangerous spots was on Route 17 and Highland Cross in Rutherford. In three years, records show there were five alcohol related crashes there.
    In Connecticut, the deadliest intersection was in Fairfield County. From 2010 to 2012, there were four alcohol-related deaths on Route 8 in Shelton, on or near Exit 13 -- more than any other intersection in the state.
    “What we need to do is finance and fund more police officers out on the street that are specifically trained for DWIs," said Richard Mallow, of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
    In addition to extra policing, Mothers Against Drunk Driving supports using interlock devices for drivers with drunk driving convictions and suspended licenses. Interlock is a device that won't let an engine start unless a breath test is cleared. 
    “This is taking the keys away from them, period,” said Mallow.