SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that the Illinois State Police (ISP) and Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) are teaming up with local law enforcement across the state to conduct a $1.4 million enforcement and education campaign to save lives during the July 4th holiday period.
ISP and 200 local police partners plan to carry out more than 100 Roadside Safety Checks and officers will also conduct hundreds of Saturation Patrols through July 6. The law enforcement crackdown is backed by funding from IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety and is coupled with a media campaign that will remind motorists: “You Drink & Drive. You Lose.”
“We are letting everyone know that during the July 4th holiday period, police will be out in force, looking to arrest anyone who is driving impaired,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “This effort is about saving lives and preventing the kinds of tragedies that we see all too often on our roadways. If you drink and drive in Illinois, you will lose. If you plan on drinking, make sure you designate a sober driver before the party begins. Otherwise, police officers will give you a ride – straight to jail.”
According to IDOT data, four people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes last July 4th. Two of those deaths involved a drinking driver.
“During this year’s Independence Day weekend, troopers around the state will be assigned to special emphasis patrols, in an effort to keep Illinois roads safe,” said ISP Director Larry G. Trent. “As part of the Combined Accident Reduction Effort (CARE), which places an emphasis on drivers who are speeding, driving while impaired and not wearing seat belts; officers will be assigned to roadside safety checks, DUI patrols and seat belt enforcement zones.”
“IDOT is sending a very strong message to anyone who would consider drinking and driving in Illinois,” said IDOT Secretary Milton R. Sees. “Impaired driving is a matter of life and death, and we will not tolerate drunk drivers on our roads. Police officers will be out in force to keep the roads safe for families and everyone who is celebrating the holiday responsibly.”
The July 4th crackdown comes on the heels of a town hall meeting in Springfield, where State officials previewed a new high-tech tool that will be deployed against drunk drivers in Illinois, starting in 2009. Beginning in January, Illinois will require first-time DUI offenders to install a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) in their car, in order to retain driving privileges. Illinois will become the second state in the nation to require a BAIID for first-time DUI offenders.
Designating a sober driver and making sure to prevent friends from taking the wheel if they are impaired are just two simple steps to help avoid a fatal crash or DUI. Other important tips include:
If you are hosting a July 4th party:
· Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served ends up in an impaired driving crash.
· Make sure all of your guests designate sober drivers in advance, or carpool with other sober drivers.
· Serve plenty of food and include non-alcoholic beverages at the party.
· Keep the numbers for local cab companies nearby, and take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving impaired.
If you are attending a July 4th party:
· Designate your sober driver before the party begins and give that person your car keys.
· If you don’t have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home, call a cab, sober friend or family member to pick you up, or just stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober.
· Never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive while impaired.
· Always buckle up – it’s still your best defense against an impaired driver.