Starting this weekend and for the rest of the summer, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department has announced an increased effort to arrest anyone who drives while intoxicated. The National Safety Council says that 462 people were killed on the road in July Fourth car crashes last year. Drunk driving caused 41 percent of the deaths — the highest of all the major holidays. This coming weekend promises to be one of the  deadliest of the year, as people drink at parties and then drive home. Unless we all use common sense.

Suffolk County’s BAT-mobile, a mobile DWI processing lab

Why not start pouring coffee? Or offer to drive someone home. Take their keys away, or give them a bed for the night. If you don’t want them out on the road, then we don’t want them out on the road. And it’s mostly men. You can’t be afraid of them. Ask someone to help you talk to them in a calm but firm way.

The week of June 19 to June 26 eight men were stopped in East Hampton for drunk driving. Six of them were locals. Four of them were in their 30s. One was 21 and his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

The arrests happened at in the middle of the night, and at 7am, and because one man crashed into a tree, and because another man was driving on the wrong side of the road. In’s story two weeks ago about Carnage on East Hampton’s roads, as wildlife was mowed down by speeding cars, it was noted that drunks ignore stop signs, traffic lights and speed limits. And of course they have a hard time staying in their lanes.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department has dispatched their mobile testing van to move all over the county this weekend, especially where crowds have gathered to watch fireworks, and possibly drink. The van will test blood alcohol levels on the spot, so accurate assessments can be made of the charges to be filed.

In addition, there will be more officers on the road. S.P.I.D.R.E. is the Sheriff’s Proactive Impaired Driver Reduction Team. His hope was that their efforts in education would have reduced DUI and DWI arrests. Instead arrests were as high in 2022 as they were in 2019 in East Hampton, according to the East Hampton Police Department annual report.

It isn’t this one weekend, it’s the entire summer. But it is also July, the deadliest month of the year for accidents. Car accidents, drownings, falls, fights, violence, heat stroke.


— Linda Lee

Linda Lee is a former writer and editor at The New York Times