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Sound Bites: Connecticut tests new anti-drunk driving technology

A video journalist takes a breathalyzer test.
Seth Wenig
A video journalist takes a breathalyzer test.

Good morning. Despite high numbers, Connecticut hopes to lower the rate of impaired driving fatalities.

Connecticut joined Virginia and Maryland in a federal program to test a new anti-drunk driving technology, which places a device inside a steering wheel to passively detect and measure the driver's blood alcohol levels before starting the vehicle. 

Six state vehicles will have the new technology installed, according to the state Department of Transportation. The vehicles will be deployed for community outreach and demonstrations at  the University of Connecticut and Hartford’s Yard Goat games to connect with students about the importance of sober driving. 

Here’s a bite-sized look at what else we’re hearing:

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman announced heightened security measures for synagogues and schools in response to an ex-Hamas leader's public call for global protests on Friday. The police department will use drone surveillance, deploy additional patrol cars and activate its SWAT team. Blakeman said there have been no credible threats against Nassau County establishments.

A sword-wielding man was killed by Suffolk County Police. Alan Weber, of East Northport, was shot inside his house by police officers. A neighbor reported Weber multiple times to police for his alleged erratic behavior. Officers were called to his home at 8:30 p.m. when he was found wearing a fencing mask and holding two swords breaking items within his house. Weber, 54, was said to have mental illness. Suffolk County Police notified the state attorney general's office about the officer-involved shooting.

Charges were dropped against a Connecticut man claiming “finder-keepers.” Robert Withington, 57, was charged after he found a bag that held $5,000 in cash outside of a bank. He was scheduled this week for a court hearing at Bridgeport Superior Court. A prosecutor informed Withington's lawyer the felony larceny charge was being dropped after Withington gave the town attorney a bank-certified check in the amount of the missing money.

Staying warm is at the top of household budgets. There is a high demand for Operation Fuel, which provides financial assistance for home heating costs in Connecticut. The program had to place limits on their applications for home heating assistance this year. In another way to deal with inflated prices, several Connecticut companies offer price caps for extra fees, allowing customers to benefit from its price drop from current levels.

Riverhead schools want to shut down the local economic development agency. Riverhead High School faces dire needs due to the extreme financial burden. The district blames the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency (IDA) for issuing tax breaks for corporations, which takes revenue away from school budgets, and calls for the IDAs to be dissolved. A bill in New York would ban IDAs from exempting school property taxes.

Yale New Haven Health seeks state funding after cyberattack. The health system wants to purchase three Connecticut hospitals which were hampered by a ransomware attack earlier this year. YNHH wants the state to provide financial assistance in hopes the hospitals’ owner, Prospect Medical Holdings, can lower the $435 million purchase price. They urged Gov. Ned Lamont and lawmakers to expedite approval of YNHH’s application. Lamont said he is worried about the volatile financial state of Prospect hospitals.

New York Republicans push to expel Rep. George Santos (R-NY), amid mounting federal charges that he defrauded, including the false reports of campaign finances. Their hope is to squeeze him out with or without a new House Speaker in place. Santos dismissed the threat of an expulsion vote on Wednesday. He has repeatedly refused to resign and insists on running for a second term next year in the face of opposition from the Nassau County Republican Party.

New London is forward-thinking for electric vehicles. The city plans to expand its inventory of electric vehicle charging stations through a no-cost incentive program. The devices would be installed in several municipal addressees, including City Hall, senior centers and schools. The cost of design and installation will be handled by Shaws Cove-based contractor Resource Lighting & Energy.

New York tax revenue from mobile sports betting is on the rise. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said the state collected $727 million in tax revenue related to mobile betting over the last year. This is more than double the inaugural year prior. However, growth in online betting has been attributed to a rise in addiction hotline calls.

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Andrea Quiles is a fellow at WSHU.