ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) - A parking lot outside Ralph Wilson Stadium on gameday, is one place volunteers can reach potential drunk drivers before they get behind the wheel. Erie County Mothers Against Drunk Driving ask people to sign up as designated drivers to make sure more fans who enjoy the game with alcohol, have a safe ride home.
"We're really proud to say now we were the pilot program, and now we have 14 nfl teams on board across the country doing this same thing at all their games," said Elizabeth Obad, President of MADD Erie County.
And on this gameday, the group honored a man they believe has done a lot to combat drunk driving.
They presented their "man of the year" award to Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard. The sheriff's office has arrested nearly 1000 drunk drivers in the last three years. 246 so far this year.
"We think this is an outstanding record by the sheriff's office and all of his deputies," Obad said.
Sheriff Howard says he accepts the award on behalf of all law enforcement officers who fight drunk driving.
"We're in the life-saving business. And taking a drunk driver off the road is definitely saving a life," Howard said.
Howard says DWI is now the most common felony crime prosecuted in Erie County. He says that's good, because it shows the county is cracking down. But it's bad because it also shows some drivers aren't getting the message the first time they're caught.
MADD is honoring Howard, but he says they deserve credit for educating the public, and for lobbying lawmakers to create stiff penalties for drinking and driving.
"Instead of just letting law enforcement decide what we think is best for the community, the community is telling us what they know is best for them," Howard said.
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