July 02, 2008

Police focus on drunken driving, traffic safety

by Pete Rosenbery

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

Patrols continue through Sunday, July 6, as part of the Mini-Grant Alcohol Enforcement Program. The current enforcement period started June 22 and covers the upcoming July 4 weekend.

Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler emphasizes that motorists, even those just traveling in the local area, need to be aware of the increased holiday traffic and accompanying outdoor events.

For the enforcement period from May 19 through June 2, SIUC police made three arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol, issued six speeding tickets, and made one arrest for driving while license suspended or revoked.

The additional enforcement periods are the result of a safety grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation. 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.