November 21, 2006

SIUC police set extra drunken driving patrols

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. --The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Department of Public Safety will conduct a second round of concentrated traffic enforcement to crack down on drunken driving starting this weekend.

SIUC police will have enforcement periods on Saturday, Nov. 25, and Nov. 30 to Dec. 2. The enforcement coincides with the Thanksgiving holiday and busy holiday travel seasons.

A $19,357 federal safety grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation's Mini-Alcohol Enforcement Program, or MAP grant, allows SIUC to hire off-duty officers to conduct traffic enforcement activities for a specific number of hours over a two-week period.

The award allows the department to pay for 336 hours of additional patrol time during eight enforcement periods between Oct. 1, 2006 and Sept. 30, 2007.

This is the fifth year SIUC police have received program funding.

The program's emphasis is on enforcing DUI, speeding and safety belt laws, said Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler. Another enforcement period is set for Dec. 18 through Jan. 1.

During the enforcement period Oct. 16 to Oct. 29, police made seven arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol. They also made four other alcohol-related arrests, two drug-related arrests, two zero tolerance violations, and one arrest for an outstanding warrant. Police also wrote 13 tickets for speeding, five safety belt citations, three warnings for safety belt violations, and made five arrests for driving while license suspended.

Sigler emphasizes enforcement is one way to reduce the number of alcohol- and speed-related offenses but it is not the entire answer. The department is also involved in education through a number of DUI and alcohol-related programs

Sigler urges caution and prior planning, including the use of designated drivers and cabs for those who might consider drinking alcohol during the holiday season.

"Holiday periods have historically proven to be the most risky for alcohol-related accidents on the roadways," Sigler said. "Ideally, we would like to be able to get through the weekends without any alcohol enforcement-related arrests."

Promoting campus safety is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.

DPS also pursues new sources of external grant funding as well as educating students about high-risk behaviors that would compromise their safety.

A benefit associated with the program is that $100 from DUI fines goes back to the Department of Public Safety. The department uses the funds for equipment to further help DUI enforcement.

SIUC is one of approximately 200 police agencies — and only two universities — in the state to receive the MAP federal safety funds this year, said Mike Stout, director of IDOT's Division of Traffic Safety. Western Illinois University in Macomb also received funding for enforcement activities.