|The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois State Police (ISP) and Secretary of State Police announced today at the State Fair in Springfield that they are teaming up with 350 local law enforcement agencies to launch a statewide impaired driving crackdown running from Aug. 17 through the Labor Day Holiday. |
“Illinois has seen a record drop in traffic fatalities under the leadership of Gov. Rod Blagojevich,” said Acting IDOT Secretary Milt Sees. “But with more than 40-percent of our state’s traffic fatalities involving alcohol, we know we need to continue aggressively attacking the problem of drunk drivers. Increased enforcement is a way to save more lives. As summer is winding down, we are putting the public on notice: If you drink and drive, you are going to lose.”
“In 2005 in Illinois, 580 people died in alcohol-related crashes. That is nearly 50 lives a month,” said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. “The message we want to share today is simple: if you drive drunk, we will arrest you. I am proud to partner with IDOT, ISP and local law enforcement agencies for this very important initiative. Every drunk driving fatality is one too many.”
The statewide Labor Day, You Drink & Drive. You Lose campaign is a combined $1.7 million enforcement and education effort to get drunk drivers off the road. The funds are used to pay for overtime for police agencies and for a media campaign. Statewide, Illinois State Police districts and the Secretary of State Police are teaming up with more than 350 police agencies to perform up to 425 roadside safety checks.
The Illinois partnership is part of a national campaign being coordinated with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The national crackdown combines the mobilization of thousands of law enforcement agencies in all 50 states backed by a major media buy to raise awareness of the consequences of driving impaired.
“The message is simple and clear,” said Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent. “We have zero-tolerance for drunk drivers in Illinois. If you are driving impaired, you will be arrested. The ISP will be out in force with local law enforcement conducting roadside safety checks, saturation patrols and other enforcement details to get drunk drivers off the road and save lives that otherwise might be lost.”
According to the NHTSA, studies reveal that nearly 97 percent of the American public sees drinking and driving by others as a threat to their families and themselves. Americans support tougher enforcement and rank impaired driving ahead of healthcare, poverty, the environment and gun control as an issue of importance.
Motorists can also expect enforcement agencies to be checking for compliance with Illinois’ primary enforcement safety belt law, in addition to checking for impairment. Since Governor Blagojevich signed the primary safety belt law, the usage rate has increased from 76 percent to 90 percent, and the number of fatalities has dropped to historically low levels. In 2003 there were 1,454 total fatalities. Since then fatalities have steadily declined to 1,254 in 2006, the lowest number since 1924.