Modified: April 22, 2016 3:03pm
Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty, Jr. is proud to congratulate Assistant District Attorney Bethany A. Solek, the recipient of the 2016 Liberty Bell Award from the Bar Association of Erie County.
The honor is given to attorneys who have provided outstanding service to their communities and is the highest award bestowed at the Bar Association’s Law Day Luncheon, scheduled for April 21 at 12:00 noon at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.
“There are thousands of attorneys in Erie County and, on occasion, the Bar Association recognizes one of them for this most prestigious award, “ says Acting DA Flaherty. “I am so proud to have one of my colleagues publicly lauded for her outstanding efforts serving the public. I am grateful to the Bar Association for selecting Beth and bringing attention to her good work.”
Bethany was selected to receive the award in recognition of her dedicated work in Erie County’s STOP DWI Student Assembly Program. The program targets high school students during prom and graduation season, providing a gripping view of the dangers and consequences of driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. The program also addresses other dangerous driving habits, including texting while driving.
Bethany represented the District Attorney’s Office for eight years in this program, volunteering her time and encouraging her colleagues to do the same. The presentations also include a member of law enforcement and a victim of impaired driving.
“The biggest misconception is that it won’t happen to them,” says Solek. “I want them to make safe and healthy choices for themselves and their friends. I tell them, ‘Be the one who takes the keys away.’ “
She says the lecture takes a scared straight approach to drunk driving, using real life examples and photos of crash scenes.
Solek explains how prosecutors investigate these cases, using evidence from the car’s “black box” to determine speed, braking and other information, as well as cell phones, GPS, DNA and surveillance cameras.
“I tell the students I never want them to be a defendant or a victim,” says Solek. “These are preventable crashes.”
Solek worked in the Erie County District Attorney’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau from 2008-2014 prosecuting cases involving alcohol and drug related fatalities and serious crashes.
She received Erie County’s STOP DWI Top Prosecutor Award in 2010 and 2015.
She is currently assigned to the Special Victims Bureau, investigating and prosecuting sex offenses and crimes against children.