April 25, 2008

Extra patrols result in 14 drunken driving arrests

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Southern Illinois University Department of Public Safety recently completed its fourth and fifth rounds of traffic enforcement aimed at cracking down on drunken driving and promoting traffic safety.

The two, two-week enforcement periods ran March 20-22, and March 27-29, and April 3-5, and April 10-12.

For the enforcement periods combined, SIUC police made 14 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol, four arrests for driving while license suspended or revoked and two arrests on outstanding warrants. Officers issued eight seat belt tickets, 27 speeding tickets and one seat belt warning.

SIUC Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler emphasizes that with the warmer weather, motorists need to be cognizant of more outdoor activities, including prom season. The warmer weather also increases the amount of pedestrian traffic on campus, and Sigler emphasizes the 20 mph speed limit on campus. Police are continuing to concentrate on speed enforcement throughout campus, Sigler said.

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

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 next enforcement period is May 19 through June 2, which includes Memorial Day weekend.

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.