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Bushwick Drunk Driving Arrests Shoot Up in Last Month Under Vision Zero

By Serena Dai | October 29, 2014 1:13pm
 Bushwick drunk driving arrests jumped 143 percent in the last month, police said.
Bushwick drunk driving arrests jumped 143 percent in the last month, police said.
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Flickr/Linus Henning

BUSHWICK — Local police are going hard on drunk driving — with arrests more than doubling in the last month due to an increase in traffic checkpoints under Vision Zero.

Police in the Bushwick's 83rd Precinct arrested 17 people for driving while intoxicated over the last month, up from seven in the same time period before, marking a 143 percent increase, NYPD officials said.

The arrests between Sept. 22 and Oct. 19 reflect "strong" ongoing efforts to crack down on intoxicated drivers, according to the precinct's commanding officer, Capt. Maximo Tolentino, and executive officer, Capt. Ronald Zedalis.

Some of the arrests happened after police pulled over cars for traffic infractions, but others occurred at "vehicle safety checkpoints," where police stop vehicles to check for things like driver sobriety, seatbelt use and cellphone use, Zedalis said.

A total of 10 checkpoints were set up across the neighborhood during the time period, "slightly" more than in the past due to a strong focus on Vision Zero, he added.

"It takes resources," Zedalis said of the checkpoints, "but the payoff is huge if we manage to get even just one drunk driver off the road."

At the checkpoints, either all cars are stopped or a set pattern of cars are stopped, such as every third or fourth car that passes, he added.

"I'm very big on Vision Zero," Tolentino said. "We're very happy with [the arrests]."

Tolentino started as commanding officer in August, but Zedalis said the precinct has always had a focus on drunk driving arrests.

Year to date, arrests of people driving while intoxicated have also gone up by 12 percent — from 98 last year to 110 this year, Zedalis said.

Much of the uptick was driven by the increase in arrests over the past month. 

"It’s a matter of focusing our enforcement and letting individuals know that they can’t do it," Zedalis said. "Not all DWI arrests are related to accidents. If we had the capabilities, we could focus on that one thing non-stop."