A Review of New York State's STOP-DWI Program

STOP-DWI Program Administration

As stated earlier in the report, the STOP-DWI Program represents 58 programs, one described as New York City, serving 62 counties in the State of New York. For administrative (and geopolitical) reasons, the New York City counties are managed by one program comprised of five boroughs: Manhattan (New York County), The Bronx, Brooklyn (Kings County), and Queens and Staten Island (Richmond County). (Roughly 42 percent of the State’s 19 million population reside in the five boroughs of New York City.)

The programs have administrative regions; however, for practical purposes there are regional groupings to conduct training and other events, such as mock trials in the contiguous mid-Hudson region. There is an annual STOP-DWI coordinators meeting each fall to share information, and “best practices” held in conjunction with the annual New York traffic safety conference.

The New York Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, the New York State Police, the STOP-DWI Coordinators Association, New York State Sheriffs’ Association, and the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police are the organizations integral to the success of the New York STOP-DWI program, and their relationship will now be described.

Statewide Highway Safety Program, Mission, and Goals

New York State’s highway safety goals mirror that of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to prevent motor vehicle crashes, save lives and reduce the severity of injuries suffered in crashes (New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, 2004). The New York Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) oversees and coordinates the traffic safety activities and programs implemented in the State. The Committee is composed of 13 State agency heads with shared interest in traffic safety, and is chaired by the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles. GTSC’s mission is to promote and support the State’s highway safety program in order to provide for the safe transportation of people and goods on New York’s roadways (New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, 2003). GTSC acts as the State’s official liaison with its Federal counterpart NHTSA in the administration of the State’s primary sources of funding for traffic safety programs and traffic safety grant funds. In addition, GTSC is a partner with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in the administration of the State’s highway construction funds and motor carrier safety funds. Likewise, GTSC works side-by-side with local agencies, nonprofit organizations and its private sector partners and supporters to deliver lifesaving highway traffic programs, public information and services throughout the State.

One of GTSC’s main responsibilities is to coordinate State and local initiatives in conjunction with the highway safety priorities identified in the annual Highway Safety Strategic Plan. For 2004, Governor George E. Pataki’s top priorities for the State’s highway safety program focus on increasing the use of occupant restraints; the reduction of unsafe driving behaviors, including speeding and impaired driving; and improving the safety of pedestrians and motorcyclists (New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, 2004). New York uses the performance-based planning process to identity goals for its traffic safety program. This process consists of problem identification through the analysis of crash, fatality, and injury data. Success is measured by the decline in the number of crashes, fatalities, and injuries on the State’s roadways.

In addition to comprehensive statewide goals, the State sets specific supplementary goals and objectives in major program areas including impaired driving. The primary goals of New York’s impaired-driving program are to reduce the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities and injuries. This is achieved by implementing an enforcement plan to increase the enforcement of the impaired-driving laws (critical to any State’s high-visibility law enforcement work), conducting training programs for police officers and prosecutors, and raising public awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving. A variety of educational programs for drivers under age 21 will be and/or have been supported. Other initiatives that focus on underage drinking drivers, drivers age 21 to 29, and repeat offenders will be emphasized (New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, 2004).

The New York State Police also play a major role in implementing STOP-DWI through enforcement and participation in the prosecution of impaired drivers. The stated mission is, “To save lives, reduce the number and severity of injuries, and minimize property damage resulting from motor vehicle crashes on the highways of New York” (New York State Police, 2003). While no STOP-DWI money is allowed by law to be given to this law enforcement agency in the reduction of impaired driving, its mission and traffic safety goals, as seen in Table 3, align with that of the program. Counties may, however, provide the New York State Police with incentives, such as loaned equipment and/or training in the pursuit of its mission. Fifteen (26%) STOP-DWI plans (2003) expressly state that such incentives were given to the New York State Police, although interviews and anecdotal information suggest that many more counties provide such incentives.

Table 3. New York State Police 2003 Traffic Safety Goals.

Diligently enforce the laws that prohibit hazardous and crash causing behaviors.
Increase the use of safety restraints and promote the proper use of child restraints.
Ensure thorough crash investigations, identifying causation to facilitate selection of enforcement priorities.
Promote the research and use of technology for increased efficiency and effectiveness in highway safety enforcement.
Improve public awareness and education of highway safety issues.
Enhance cooperation and coordination of traffic safety activities with other traffic safety agencies and organizations.
Ensure that commercial motor carriers safely coexist on the highways and in the communities across New York State.

Data source: New York State Police, 2003 (Traffic Safety Plan 2003).

STOP-DWI has a long history of collaboration with partners who have been involved in impaired-driving control and prevention since the 1970s. Both the Governors Traffic Safety Committee and the New York State Police are longstanding partners. Among other major collaborators are the New York State Liquor Authority, the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, New York State Sheriffs’ Association, and the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police. More discussion of STOP-DWI partners in the counties follows at a later point.

STOP-DWI Mission and Goals

The mission of New York’s STOP-DWI program is to empower and coordinate local efforts to reduce alcohol and other drug-related traffic crashes within the context of a comprehensive and financially self-sustaining statewide alcohol and highway safety program (New York State STOP-DWI Coordinators Association, 2002). The program’s goal is to achieve these reductions through the creation and funding of programs relating to enforcement, prosecution, probation, rehabilitation, public information, education and administration.

While the counties pursue the overall goal of the STOP-DWI program, each may set supplementary goals and performance targets in accordance with the main objective of the program. In working toward this goal, each county program may select and support a range of initiatives, such as, police units dedicated to DWI enforcement, special prosecutors and probation officers, rehabilitation services, and public information and education campaigns tailored to their communities. STOP-DWI is grounded in the “local options” standard, which affords a county the ability to implement community-specific countermeasures and interventions. More discussion on specific countermeasures and interventions follows in Section IV.

In reviewing county STOP-DWI plans, several counties set additional program-specific goals and targets (e.g., Albany – To reduce the number of vehicle crashes caused by impaired drivers by 20 through proactive enforcement and prevention education; Genesee – To maintain the number of DWI Enforcement Nights conducted by the local police agencies over the 2003 activity).

Local Government Structure

There are two traditional models of county government in New York State - the Commission/
Administrator and Council-Executive models. The County Administrator model comprises 41 (72%) of New York county government models and 16 (28%) are County-Executive governments. Recall that New York City’s counties include five boroughs combined into one administrative region; New York City government officials are elected (National Association of Counties, 2003).

Again, the unique feature of the STOP-DWI program is the “local options” discretion regarding specific program components each considers vital in carrying out STOP-DWI’s goal. Each county has structured its program according to its needs and the capacity to generate revenues from DWI offenses. The legislation for the STOP-DWI program requires all counties or local jurisdictions to appoint a coordinator for the program, which should develop and implement the program through coordinating its activities with other alcohol and traffic safety agencies.

The NHTSA team reviewed the program organization of each county from its 2003 plans submitted to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and other public records such as published budget and government directories. Nearly half (47%) of the STOP-DWI programs function as independent county departments (26%) or as divisions within county law enforcement agencies (21%). The rest are organizationally assigned within county departments of transportation, health, mental health, youth services, community planning, and community services. Figure 4 provides a snapshot of where the STOP-DWI program is located within the county government organizational structure.

Figure 4. STOP-DWI County Government Organization, All Counties.

Figure 4 - click for long description

Note: N = 53 (81%) counties.
Data source(s): County STOP-DWI plans, public county budget and organizational data.

By law, STOP-DWI programs are governed by the county executive or county administrator. The STOP-DWI program coordinators are career civil service or politically appointed employees. The STOP-DWI law specifically delineates the role of the coordinator and program components. For example, in larger counties where the sheriff and district attorney offices manage the STOP-DWI program, staff typically carry out the day-to-day program activities, while in rural counties, the sheriff or district attorney may serve in dual roles as program coordinator.

In examining the current physical location of the STOP-DWI programs, the majority (62%) are housed in, or in close proximity to, county law enforcement (district attorney, probation) or public safety offices, including those located in county courthouses (33%). STOP-DWI program offices are specifically housed in Sheriff (26%), District Attorney (14%) and other Public Safety Offices (14%). One STOP-DWI program is located within the County Executive Office.

Traffic Safety and STOP-DWI Advisory Boards

New York State requires that each county (specifically described as city, town, or county not wholly included within a city) establish a Traffic Safety Board (State of New York Department of Motor Vehicles, 2003). These boards pursue the overall goal of traffic safety. They were created specifically to administer Federal and community highway safety grant money at the county and city level. New York Vehicle and Traffic Law requires the establishment of a STOP-DWI Advisory Board that specifically provides oversight to the local or county program. In some counties, the board serves both purposes; however, in many counties, these boards are distinct and separate entities. There are STOP-DWI coordinators who are currently active members on local Traffic Safety Boards. It is important to understand that both Traffic Safety and STOP-DWI Advisory Boards, whether one or two groups, are comprised of traffic safety leaders in a particular community and have considerable influence on program activities in the counties.

Local Program Funding Process

Based on total dollars in the STOP-DWI program (for 2003) and the current adult population of New York, $1.21 is contributed to the STOP-DWI program for every adult resident. Offender fines fully fund the STOP-DWI program, and no funds are deposited into the State General Fund, which is a common mechanism in other States for this type of program. Figure 5 examines the long-term trend for the STOP-DWI program.

Figure 5. STOP-DWI Program Dollars, 1982-2003 (unadjusted dollars).

Figure 5 - click for long description

Data source(s): 2003 New York STOP-DWI County Plans, made available by the New York Department of Motor Vehicles; Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (March 1985, reprinted November 2003.
Note(s): Data for 1992 were unavailable and estimated based on mean data from near years. Revenue decreased from $22,704,290 (FY 2002) to $22,520,906 (FY 2003). Revenue in 1992 was estimated, based the mean data from 1988 to 1996. The paradox of an impaired-driving prevention program that relies on offender fines is that effective countermeasures may reduce the availability of funds to support the program.

Various channels are used to collect DWI/DWAI offender fines. Once the offender is sentenced, the fines are commonly collected by the county law enforcement agencies and county courts, and are directly deposited into the STOP-DWI account. The New York DMV provides financial and programmatic oversight in support of the local program. The funding is restricted to enhance programs and activities that reduce the incidence of impaired driving, and cannot by law duplicate any programs or services already provided in a particular county. The funds are directed toward law enforcement, prosecution, and other court-related costs, probation, rehabilitation, public information and education, and administration. The county executive or administrator manages these funds and program revenue and the STOP-DWI coordinator reports expenditures to the DMV on a quarterly basis. As would be expected, there is a 90-day lag time for depositing and reporting (Rood & Dowling, 1985). Figure 6 depicts where the funds go, on a statewide basis, by program components.

Examination of recent historical trends for the New York STOP-DWI budget, reported by the New York DMV and the counties, is displayed according to six components of the program. These six components are: (1) Enforcement, (2) Court-Related Activities, (3) Probation, (4) Rehabilitation, (5) Public Information and Education (PI&E), and (6) Administration/Evaluation. Historical budget trends by dollars and by percentages are presented in Figures 7 and 8, respectively.

Figure 6. STOP-DWI Local Program Components by 2003 Budget Dollars.

Data source: New York Department of Motor Vehicles, 2004.

Figure 7 presents the annual New York STOP-DWI budget in dollars, 1998-2003.
Overall, there has been little variation throughout the 1998-2003 period. However,
it is noteworthy that the overall budget dollars for enforcement and rehabilitation have been decreasing steadily since 1999. It indicates a significant decrease of expenditures for enforcement, from $11 million in 1999 to $8.5 million in 2003. Similarly, rehabilitation expenditures have decreased from $2.2 million in 1998 to $1.4 million in 2003. This decrease parallels the overall decrease in revenue of the program from $26.4 million in 1999 to $22.5 million in 2003.

Figure 7. STOP-DWI Budget by Program Component (Dollars), 1998-2003.

Figure 7 - click for long description

Note: (N = 56). Hamilton and Wyoming counties are not reported.

Figure 8 shows that more than one-third of the New York STOP-DWI budget is allocated to enforcement, ranging from 38 percent in 2003 to 42 percent in 1999. Court-related costs ranked second, accounting for 15 to 16 percent of the budget. Resources used for public information and education activities and probation programs ranked third and fourth, respectively. Administrative expenditures typically account for 10 to 11 percent of the New York STOP-DWI budget; however, counties approach this program area differently. Variations include: allocation of administrative personnel costs to different program areas (e.g., sharing the coordinator full-time equivalent [FTE] position salary among two or more areas), assignment of different and expanded responsibilities (e.g., grants programs) and additional activities conducted by the coordinator and staff (e.g., the cost for victim impact panels may be absorbed by administration). Rehabilitation programs rank last in terms of budget; however, there are counties that capitalize on other funded programs that treat DWI offenders and victims.

Figure 8. STOP-DWI Budget by Program Component (%), 1998-2003.

Figure 8  - click for long description

Note: (N = 56). Hamilton and Wyoming counties are not reported.

Annual county budgets vary significantly, ranging from $50,000 for Schuyler County to $2.4 million for Suffolk County. Table 4 groups county budgets into categories based on total STOP-DWI program dollars using FY 2003 as the baseline year, while Table 5 lists individual counties using these categories. The majority (65%) of New York counties have annual program budgets that range from $100,000 to $499,999.

Table 4. County Program Budget by Dollar Categories.

Budget Range
Counties (%)
>= $1,000,000
6 (10 %)
$500,000 - $999,999
5 ( 9 %)
$250,000 - $499,999
18 (31 %)
$100,000 - $249,999
20 (34 %)
< $ 100,000
9 (16 %)

Note: N = 58 (programs), FY 2003 budget data, except that data for Hamilton and Wyoming County STOP-DWI programs are estimated based on earlier budgets (2001, 2002).
Data Source: New York Department of Motor Vehicles.

Table 5. County Program Budgets, 2002.

= $1,000,000
$999,999 - $500,000
$499,999 - $250,000
$249,999 - $100,000

Note: N = 56 (programs). Budget data not available for Hamilton and Wyoming STOP-DWI programs. Data source: New York Department of Motor Vehicles.

STOP-DWI Foundation, Other Program Funding

The United States Department of Transportation does not fund the STOP-DWI program, however federal funding is directed to the State of New York’s traffic safety activities. NHTSA’s Eastern Office reports that in 2003 approximately $800,000 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), Traffic Safety Section 402, Safety Program (the basic federal highway safety grant program through which every State receives funding) annual funds were used for impaired driving control and prevention countermeasures (New York State Police law enforcement, DWI prosecutor training, judicial and probation countermeasures, Alcohol Beverage Control and effectiveness and evaluation studies). The TEA-21, Section 410, the Alcohol Incentive Grant Program, funds subsidized participation in national mobilizations (high-visibility enforcement activities) by local law enforcement agencies. These Federal dollars supplemented and enhanced impaired-driving control and prevention activities in the State.

In 2000, the STOP-DWI Foundation was formed. This strategy was used to give the local STOP-DWI programs means to apply for TEA-21 grants and monies to supplement current activities and support new activities. Prior to the Federal incentive grants, such as TEA-21, GTSC limited their funding of the State’s impaired driving program since the STOP-DWI funds were generally three times the State’s allotment for Section 402.

STOP-DWI coordinators also clearly rely on creative means to fund local program activities -- in-kind donations such as media and the use of facilities for events. The New York State Broadcasters Association’s “noncommercial advertising” methods (i.e. unsold) are used and programs historically do not pay for media used in public education and information activities. Earned media is the other common strategy for publicizing public education messages and events.

Local Administrative Process

Currently, all 62 New York counties are covered by established local STOP-DWI programs. Each county must submit an annual implementation plan for the upcoming calendar year, 90 days prior to the beginning of the local fiscal year (October 1st). Although the development and implementation of STOP-DWI programs rests with the counties, the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles is charged with the task of approving the county plans. Plans are to be submitted annually in the format prescribed by the commissioner. All county plans support the main objective of the program to coordinate county, town, city, and village efforts to reduce the rate of alcohol-related and other drug-related injuries and fatalities. Most incorporate all or a majority of the elements associated with a comprehensive program: enforcement, prosecution, probation, rehabilitation, public information and education, and administration (State of New York Department of Motor Vehicles, 2003).

The county STOP-DWI coordinator is responsible for the development of the plan and the coordination of efforts by agencies involved in alcohol and highway safety. Coordinators rely mainly on alcohol-related arrest data, convictions, and crash data in formulating their county's plan. However, input and proposed activities from interested parties and county, town, city, or village agencies or nongovernmental groups for activities related to alcohol traffic safety are also considered.

In each individual plan, the county must include a narrative description of the proposed project activities for each of the program areas and the revenue estimates and projected expenditures that correlate to the activities proposed. All plans that include contracted services must describe contract specifics (e.g., deliverables, fringe benefits for personnel). Plans must also clearly identify the cost components of programs funded by both STOP-DWI and other sources.

The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles reviews each county plan in accordance with the law, and serves in an advisory capacity for plan and budget review and compliance with the STOP-DWI law. This includes ensuring that there is no duplication of existing programs funded or operated by either the State or any municipality (Article 43-A). For example, the State's alcohol and drug rehabilitation program, the Drinking Driver Program (DDP), established under New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law 1196, may not receive funds. It is the local county authority that formally approves the STOP-DWI plan and allocation of resources. As stated previously, proposed operational budgets also may not fund the salaries or overtime expenses of the New York State Police. However, counties may loan equipment to this law enforcement agency as an incentive to assisting them with the reduction of impaired driving.

The New York GTSC oversees and coordinates the traffic safety activities and programs implemented in the State. Documentation of endorsement is to be submitted in the form of a copy of the local resolution passed in adopting the plan thereby authorizing expenditures of the funds in that county's STOP-DWI account. Money in these accounts is under the exclusive care, custody, and control of each county's chief fiscal officer (State of New York Department of Motor Vehicles, 2003).

Fiscal transactions, receipt, and distribution of program income from fines typically have a lag time of 90 days. However, the counties report that the recording of penalties and fines by the courts is efficient, typically immediate or within 3 days of the rendering of judicial decisions.

Expenditures from a county's STOP-DWI account can only be incurred upon approval of the county's implementation plan by the commissioner. For monitoring purposes, the law requires that the county's chief fiscal officer submit a written certificate of funds expended from these accounts on a quarterly basis to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles. In addition, any plan amendments or budget modifications, which propose expenditures in either previously unfunded areas or items, or increased expenditures in previously funded areas or items, must be submitted in writing to the commissioner for notification and approval. Written approval by the commissioner is required of proposed budget modifications if the sum total of said modifications within a fiscal year is to exceed 10 percent of the originally approved budget. Unspent money from any given fiscal year must remain in the STOP-DWI account. Rollover funds may be used in the next fiscal year to increase funding in a program area or item, or begin funding a previously unfunded program area or item (State of New York Department of Motor Vehicles, 2003).

Figure 9 provides a summary of the STOP-DWI program annual administrative and budget cycles.

Figure 9. Annual STOP-DWI Program Administrative, Budget Cycles.

Figure 9  - click for long description

A county may voluntarily cease its program by notifying the commissioner in writing of the date of termination. The cessation of a county's STOP-DWI program whether voluntarily or by the issuance of a notice of suspension or withdrawal, shall result in any remaining money in the county's STOP-DWI account being transferred to the general fund of the State treasury. In addition, funds from any future fines and forfeitures collected in the county shall be transferred into the general fund of the State treasury. Only previously accrued expenditures prior to the date of termination will be paid from the county's STOP-DWI account. The New York DMV reports that this has not occurred to date.

STOP-DWI Coordinator Role

Central to the implementation of local STOP-DWI programs is the coordinator, who by law is designated by the county chief executive officer (State of New York Department of Motor Vehicles, 2003). The New York City program, serving five counties, is the only exception, where the mayor of New York City directly appoints the coordinator. As mentioned under Local Administrative Process, the coordinator is mainly responsible for the development of the plan and the coordination of efforts by agencies involved in alcohol and highway safety.

Dedicated program resources for the coordinator and administrative personnel vary by county. Coordinators are both full- and part-time, and may serve in other capacities within the local government, depending on where in the organizational structure the program is housed. In 15 (26 %) programs, the Sheriff or chief law enforcement officer (e.g., district attorney) also serves as the STOP-DWI coordinator. Other specific duties of the program coordinator are described in the STOP- DWI Law and focus on implementation according to the six program areas (State of New York Department of Motor Vehicles, 2003).