SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed Senate Bill 1088 expanding the ability of local police agencies to use money generated by fines stemming from convictions for driving under the influence. Senate Bill 1088 allows for a much wider use of DUI funds by law enforcement in combating alcohol-related crimes, like training, setting up checkpoints and sting operations. Before the Governor signed this law, the money could only be used for purchasing equipment.
Also today, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Illinois State Police (ISP) announced that they and more than 250 local agencies will be stepping up impaired driving enforcement around the Fourth of July celebrations.
“Law enforcement said they needed more flexibility in how they fight alcohol-related crimes, and that’s exactly what this law does,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “Having the right equipment is critical to police work, but sometimes you need to increase enforcement or raise awareness to make a difference, especially when it comes to reducing instances of drunk driving.”
Senate Bill 1088, sponsored by Sen. Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago) and Rep. Harry Ramey, Jr. (R-West Chicago), amends the Illinois Vehicle Code by expanding the possible uses of DUI fine monies received by the arresting agency. Currently, an agency can receive $100 for a first DUI conviction and $200 for a second conviction and may use the funds to purchase equipment for enforcement of alcohol-related crimes. SB 1088 allows agencies to use the funds for enforcement and prevention of impaired driving, including training, education, salaries, checkpoints, saturation patrols and sting operations.
"It is important that the State police have these funds available to assist them in providing training, education and additional patrols to apprehend DUI offenders," said Sen. Munoz. "By expanding the purposes that these dollars from DUI fines and fees can be used for we are giving the State Police additional resources and man power to catch DUI offenders and keep them off out streets."
“I applaud the Governor for signing this bill. I originally sponsored this bill in the House, and because of this bill law enforcement agencies will now be able to better educate and staff their officers when it comes to alcohol related crimes,” said Rep. Ramey.
SB 1088 is effective immediately.
The Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois State Police also announced today they are working with more than 250 local police agencies throughout Illinois to get impaired drivers off the road during the Fourth of July celebrations. In all, more than 1,150 saturation patrols and 150 Roadside Safety Checks will be conducted during the enforcement period that runs through July 8.
“Over the past three years more than 60 percent of the traffic fatalities that happened on Illinois highways during the Fourth of July holiday period have been related to alcohol,” said IDOT Secretary Timothy W. Martin. “The stepped-up enforcement we are able to provide helps combat impaired driving during the holiday periods, but the bill Governor Blagojevich signed today will allow more flexibility to local agencies year round.”
The Governor has made improving traffic safety and getting impaired drivers off the road a priority for his administration. Previous impaired driving measures signed by the Governor include:
- Increased penalties for drivers over the age of 21 who transport a child under the age of 16 while impaired;
- Harsher penalties for repeat DUI offenders, including making it a felony offense if convicted of DUI three or more times, no probation for a fourth or fifth conviction;
- Chemical testing required for those arrested for hit-and-run;
- Harsher sentencing for causing a death while driving impaired; and
- Tougher penalties for driving on a DUI-revoked license.
“The sad reality is that someone dies every day in Illinois because of an impaired driver,” Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent said. “It’s difficult to believe that even with the raised awareness about the consequences of drinking and driving, there are still those who refuse to comprehend the magnitude of their actions until it’s too late. That’s why we have to tighten our laws, increase enforcement and continue to hammer away at educating the public—if you drink, don’t drive.”
Governor Blagojevich created an Illinois Alcohol Abuse Task Force in the fall of 2004, which will present him recommendations later this year to improve the coordination of the alcohol abuse, prevention and enforcement efforts of Illinois state agencies and organizations, as well as to better share information, prevent duplication and have the best use of resources.