SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Acting Secretary Milt Sees and Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Larry Trent announced that IDOT, ISP and the Secretary of State Police are teaming up with local police agencies throughout the state to urge the public to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day safely this weekend. The agencies issued the notice today as they gear up for a major enforcement effort for the third year in a row.
“Unfortunately, in recent years we’ve seen an increase in the number of people killed in highway crashes on St. Patrick’s Day,” Acting Secretary Sees said. “That is why for the last three years, IDOT and the Illinois State Police have worked with local law enforcement agencies across the state in a coordinated effort to stop underage drinking and to take impaired drivers off our roadways.”
Because St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, law enforcement will be working even harder to get drunk drivers off the road. This year IDOT, ISP and the Secretary of States Police will join 65 police agencies and sheriff’s departments from around Illinois in stepping up efforts to spot and arrest impaired drivers leading up to and on St. Patrick’s Day. Since 1994, crash deaths on St. Patrick’s Day have continued to rise, from one in 1994 to eight in 2004 and six in 2005. Illinois’ annual average is less than four crash fatalities a day.
“Illinois law enforcement officers are committed to keeping impaired drivers off the roads and preventing alcohol-related tragedies year round,” ISP Director Larry Trent said. “So that we can hopefully prevent tragedies and our citizens arrive home safely, we'll be increasing our efforts during the St. Patrick's Day celebrations. If you are going to celebrate by drinking, don’t take any chances. Designate a driver and make the celebration safe for everyone.”
At least 65 police agencies will be conducting 100 roadside safety checks as part of the St. Patrick’s Day mobilization, specifically focused on getting impaired drivers off the road. On March 16 and 17, the Illinois State Police will have 30 roadside checks in districts around Illinois. In the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, police around the state will conduct Alcohol Countermeasure Enforcement (ACE) details, including sting operations at bars and package liquor stores, aimed at stopping underage drinking before it starts.
IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety is funding the crackdown and a media awareness campaign with $279,000, of which $100,000 is for radio ads and $179,000 to help police agencies cover overtime related to the effort.