CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) Division of Traffic Safety along with state and local law enforcement officials today used a controlled training exercise called a “wet lab” to demonstrate the negative effects of alcohol on driving. The demonstration is part of Illinois’ 2011 Labor Day “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Impaired Driving Crackdown that began August 19 and runs through Labor Day, September 5.
“The demonstration today illustrates how devastating alcohol impairment is on a person’s judgment, control and ability to operate a vehicle,” said Acting Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider. “Wet labs provide an effective way to safely reinforce the effects of impaired driving, all within a controlled environment under the guidance of law enforcement officials.”
IDOT, the Illinois State Police and local law enforcement agencies together organized wet lab demonstrations in six cities across Illinois. The events occurred as the 2011 “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Labor Day campaign enters its second week of stepped-up impaired driving enforcement.
“Illinois State Police want motorists to arrive at their final destinations safely during the holiday weekend and will be targeting designated areas looking for speeders, seatbelt violators, distracted drivers, and DUI offenders ,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau. “These are the Fatal 4 violations ISP will be enforcing during the holiday weekend. Violating any of these laws can result in fines and possible jail time and will be treated as criminal acts by the police and court system,” he added.
A wet lab occurs in a controlled environment in which a person consumes alcohol to a level of 0.08 BAC (the limit in Illinois). This allows observation of the real-life effects of impairment and the significant effects of alcohol on a person’s motor skills. Volunteer participants in today’s events attempted Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) administered by police officers to show what happens in an actual Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrest. In addition, the drinking subjects showed how a vehicle equipped with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) will not start when an impaired person attempts to drive.
The SFSTs are a sequence of three tests administered and evaluated in a standardized manner to obtain indicators of impairment as it relates to a DUI charge. The tests are administered systematically and are evaluated according to measured responses of the suspect.
Illinois became one of the first states in the nation in 2009 to require first-time DUI offenders to install a BAIID device on their vehicle. The BAIID device requires the offender to pass a breath-alcohol test before the ignition engages. Additional tests are required at random intervals after the car is started. The devices can be configured to perform a variety of functions in the event of a failed or refused test while driving (such as sounding the horn and blinking the lights), but will not shut the engine off. The BAIID program is administered by staff from the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State.
“Each and every time a BAIID discourages or stops someone from driving impaired, it carries the potential of preventing multiple deaths or injuries on our roads,” said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. “I am pleased that the number of BAIIDs installed on the vehicles of DUI offenders has quadrupled – going from 3,000 to 12,000 annually – in the two and a half years since Illinois’ BAIID law took effect in 2009 targeting first-time offenders. I am also encouraged with a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that show re-arrest rates for impaired drivers dropped by 67 percent after BAIIDs are installed as compared to drivers with suspended driver’s licenses.”
The “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Impaired Driving Campaign is administered by the IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety. The campaign features stepped-up enforcement supported by an intensive two-week media campaign intended to deter individuals from driving impaired. For more information on Illinois’ traffic safety efforts, log onto www.trafficsafety.illinois.gov.