April 11, 2007

SIUC police step up drunken driving enforcement

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE — The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Department of Public Safety is conducting another round of traffic enforcement to crack down on drunken driving.

A fifth round of enforcement activity began April 2 and extends through Sunday, April 15, Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler said. The period coincides with warm weather, proms, and gearing up for graduation activities.

The program's emphasis is on enforcing DUI, speeding and safety belt laws, Sigler said.

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 March 22-31, SIUC police conducted 34 hours of enforcement patrols. Police arrested seven people for driving under the influence of alcohol and ticketed 11 motorists for speeding. There were three arrests for outstanding warrants, three for driving with a suspended license, and one drug-related arrest. There were two safety belt tickets issued, and another six safety belt warning tickets.

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.