March 14, 2007

SIUC police to crack down on drunken driving

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Department of Public Safety is conducting a fourth round of concentrated traffic enforcement beginning this weekend to crack down on drunken driving.

The enforcement period runs from Sunday, March 18, through Sunday, April 1. The period coincides with the onset of warmer weather, which means more outdoor activities.

The program's emphasis is on enforcing DUI, speeding and safety belt laws, said Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler.

Funding comes from a federal safety grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation's Mini-Grant Alcohol Enforcement Program. The $19,357 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.

In an enforcement period that ran Dec. 17 through Jan. 1, SIUC police arrested six people for driving under the influence of alcohol, and ticketed 19 motorists for speeding, four for other alcohol-related offenses, three people for seat belt violations, and one person for zero tolerance violation.

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