Police watch for impaired drivers as holiday nears

Police watch for impaired drivers as holiday nears

Police are out in force as part of Illinois' annual "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" crackdown on drunken drivers.

The statewide crackdown, which runs through Labor Day, includes high-visibility alcohol and seat belt enforcement throughout the Danville area.

"Every year in Illinois, about one-third of all motor-vehicle traffic deaths involve one or more drunk drivers or motorcycle operators," Danville Public Safety Director Larry Thomason said.

He said holidays such as Labor Day are particularly dangerous.

"Research has shown that high-visibility enforcement like the 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' campaign reduces drunk-driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent," Thomason said. "By joining this effort, we will help make Danville's roads safer for everyone."

During the crackdown, he said, police will be "aggressively" looking for drunken drivers.

"We want to remind everyone that getting behind the wheel drunk is a terrible idea," added Danville Commander Jane McFadden, the program coordinator.

"Unfortunately, not only does drinking impair your ability to operate a vehicle safely, it also impairs your judgment and good sense about whether you can or should drive," she continued. "If you have any doubt about your sobriety, do not get behind the wheel. If you do chose to drive impaired, you will be arrested. No warnings. No excuses."

In addition, police are cracking down on seat belt law violators "especially during the all-too-dangerous late night hours," McFadden said, adding seat belt usage is the lowest at that time. "Zero tolerance will be shown for seat belt law violators — in the front and back seat."

Thomason said drunken drivers face a number of consequences, which could include jail time, loss of their driver licenses and steep financial consequences such as higher insurance rates, attorney fees, court costs, lost time at work and the potential loss of job. He added violators also often face tremendous personal embarrassment when family, friends and co-workers find out.

"Driving drunk is simply not worth the risk, so don't take the chance," he said.

Sgt. Brad Kane of the Illinois State Police said District 10, based in Pesotum, is planning a series of seat belt enforcement details between now and Labor Day.

"We're going to be checking drivers to see if they are wearing seat belts," Kane said. "If you are involved in a crash, seat belts may be the only thing to prevent you from being hurt or killed."

In addition, Kane said state police will be conducting a roadside safety check somewhere in the district between now and Labor Day.

Urbana police Lt. Robert Fitzgerald said the Urbana Police Department will have one patrol car that goes around the city on weekends to look for drunk drivers as part of the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program, also known by the acronym STEP.

STEP is a program in which specific sites in the city are scheduled for concentrated traffic enforcement based on statistical data which indicates an area with high traffic accidents or on input from citizens about traffic concerns in a particular area or neighborhood.

The law enforcement crackdown is funded by federal traffic safety funds through the Illinois Department of Transportation.

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