The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs, SCCUDD, and the Watkins Glen Police Department are working together to reduce and prevent underage drinking and drug use by targeting alcohol- and drug-impaired driving.
Chief Thomas Struble answered SCCUDD’s call for assistance in monitoring the underage and impaired driving concerns in our community and police will be increasing patrols on two upcoming weekends: the weekend of the Schuyler County Italian American Festival at Clute Park in Watkins Glen, July 31 through Aug. 2, and the weekend of the Phish Magnaball festival at Watkins Glen International, Aug. 21-23.
“We are committed to the reduction of underage alcohol substance use by getting the word out that driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is something we cannot afford to overlook in our community,” said Sergeant Steven Decker, Treasurer of SCCUDD and member of the Watkins Glen Police Department. “People who die in impaired-driving crashes are real people. They are our families, friends, and neighbors, and their deaths are preventable — they are not accidents.”
In 2014, the Watkins Glen Police Department and the Schuyler County Sherriff’s Department arrested a total of 68 people for driving while intoxicated, according to the Schuyler County Sherriff’s Office. Some of those arrested were held under the state’s Leandra’s Law, as children were in the vehicle at the time of the impaired driving arrest.
Danielle Tilden, Clinic Manager of FLACRA noted that alcohol is the primary substance of concern for 51 percent of individuals in treatment this year. Of those individuals, 35 percent identify first use as between ages 12-15 and 38 percent identify first use between the ages of 16-18.
Of the individuals seeking substance abuse treatment, 31 percent identify a DWI arrest as a primary event leading to treatment.
FLACRA is among the community agencies coming together as SCCUDD to fight underage drinking and drug use. SCCUDD was formed in April 2006 after a series of events that included photos of an underage drinking party posted to social media causing a football team to forfeit an important game; the arrest of a mother for purchasing a car-trunk full of alcohol for her children and their friends; and the 2006 Community Health Assessment finding that alcohol was the No. 1 heath concern of Schuyler County residents.
Statistics also showed that Schuyler County had twice the state rate of underage DWI arrest, twice the state rate of alcohol-related unintentional injury and death, three times the state rate of youth on probation with alcohol involvement, and a high rate of youth injured in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents.
Since its formation, SCCUDD has grown and recruited members from all major sectors of the community, with significant involvement of the Council on Alcoholism and Addictions of the Finger Lakes, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Schuyler County Public Health, FLACRA, Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Coalition, the health services community, the faith community and youth themselves with the recent formation of Schuyler Teens Against Alcohol, Nicotine and other Drugs, STAND.
For more information about SCCUDD, contact Deborah Dalmat, SCCUDD Project Coordinator, at 607-535-8140 or visit the SCCUDD website at www.schuylercounty.us/sccudd.For information about impaired driving prevention in general, contact Watkins Glen Police Chief Thomas Struble or Schuyler County Undersheriff Breck Spaulding.