March 20, 2008

Police to step up drunken driving enforcement

by Pete Rosenbery

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

The two-week enforcement period begins today (March 20) and runs through Saturday, March 29. The enforcement period coincides with the Easter holiday, and the beginning of spring and warmer weather.

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 last 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. There will be approximately 50 hours of additional enforcement during this period.

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

During the first three enforcement periods, SIUC police made 13 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol, seven other alcohol-related arrests, one drug-related arrest, three arrests for driving while license suspended, two outstanding warrant arrests, and issued 22 speeding tickets and three seat belt tickets.

SIUC Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler emphasized that with the warmer weather, motorists need to be cognizant of more outdoor activities, including more bicyclists on the street. He emphasized the 20 mph speed limit on campus.

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.