June 25, 2007

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 seventh round of enforcement activity started today, June 25, and extends through Sunday, July 8, SIUC police officer Scott Miller said. The period covers about 50 hours of additional enforcement.

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

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 May 21 to June 3, SIUC police issued 67 citations covering 59 traffic stops. That includes five arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol, and nine tickets for speeding. There were six tickets and three written warnings for seat belt violations, three arrests for driving on a suspended or revoked license, and one arrest for possession of a controlled substance and resisting a police officer, Miller said.

The SIUC Department of Public Safety "stresses the importance of making wise decisions to not drink and drive, and to drive safely during the Fourth of July holiday," Miller said. "Enforcement periods are designed to combat impaired drivers to make our campus a safer community."

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. Western Illinois University in Macomb also received funding for enforcement activities.