November 15, 2007

Police step up drunken driving enforcement

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Southern Illinois University Department of Public Safety is cracking down on drunken driving and promoting traffic safety.

The two-week enforcement period, which began Monday, Nov. 12, and runs through Nov. 25, includes approximately 40 hours of additional patrol, said SIUC Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler.

The additional enforcement periods are the result of a safety grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation's Mini-Grant Alcohol Enforcement Program. SIUC recently received funds for a sixth year of enforcement.

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.

This is the second enforcement period in this grant cycle.

During the first enforcement period Oct. 21-Nov. 3, SIUC police made seven arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol, seven additional alcohol-related arrests, issued 10 speeding tickets and made one outstanding warrant arrest.

Sigler notes this time of year is the start of the extended holiday season. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays occur within a 41-day period.

"With the added travel and holiday activities it's a period when accidents are probably most numerous," he said. "People need to be cognizant of how much they have had to drink and call a cab, utilize a designated driver or call somebody for help if they have had too much."

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.