May 23, 2008

Police step up drunken driving enforcement

by Pete Rosenbery

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

The enforcement period began Monday, May 19, and runs through June 2, which covers the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Several other local law enforcement agencies are also participating in similar safe driving campaigns during this period. SIUC police will utilize about 55 hours in additional patrols during the enforcement period.

SIUC Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler emphasizes that motorists, even those just traveling in the local area, need to be aware of the increase in outdoor events and activities. There will be increases in pedestrian traffic on campus as summer camps begin early next month. The speed limit on campus is 20 mph.

For the enforcement period from March 21 through April 13, SIUC police made nine arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol, issued nine speeding tickets, three uninsured motorist tickets, one safety belt ticket, and made one arrest for driving while license suspended or revoked, and one outstanding warrant arrest.

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.

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.