November 01, 2007

Police step up drunken driving enforcement

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Department of Public Safety is launching another round of traffic enforcement aimed at cracking down on drunken driving and promoting traffic safety.

The department recently received a sixth federal safety grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation's Mini-Grant Alcohol Enforcement Program.

Beginning today, Thursday, Nov. 1, officers will again conduct additional patrols through the weekend. The department conducted extra patrols last weekend.

"SIUC Department of Public Safety is pleased to received funding for our sixth year in a row, and we appreciate the partnership we have established with the Illinois Department of Transportation to improve traffic safety in and around the Carbondale campus," said SIUC Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler.

The $19,603 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, 2007, and Sept. 30, 2008.

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

For the 2007 fiscal year, which ran from Oct. 1, 2006 to Sept. 30, 2007, SIUC police made 49 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol, along with 11 additional alcohol-related arrests. There were 108 speeding tickets, 29 safety belt violations, seven drug-related arrests, five outstanding warrant-related arrests, 19 arrests for driving on a suspended license, and three zero-tolerance arrests.

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.