December 13, 2007

Police to step up drunken driving enforcement

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Southern Illinois University Department of Public Safety next week will launch a third round of traffic enforcement aimed at cracking down on drunken driving and promoting traffic safety.

The two-week enforcement period begins Monday, Dec. 17, and runs through Jan. 1. The enforcement period coincides with the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

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

The $19,603 grant allows SIUC to hire off-duty officers to conduct traffic enforcement activities for a specific number of hours over the 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.

During the second enforcement period Nov. 12-25, SIUC police made two arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol, one arrest for driving while license suspended, and issued six speeding tickets.

SIUC Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler emphasized that motorists need to be cognizant of utilizing designated drivers and planning ahead.

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.