|SPRINGFIELD - The July 4th holiday is a time for family fun including parades, picnics, festivals and boating but consider yourself warned... if You Drink & Drive. You Lose. State, county and municipal law enforcement in Illinois are joining forces in the largest impaired driving crackdown in state history. |
Fatalities in alcohol-related crashes are on the decline nationally. In 2003, 17,013 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes compared to 17,524 killed in 2002. That trend is mirrored in Illinois. In 2003, 639 Illinois motorist died in alcohol-related crashes compared to 648 in 2002.
"Alcohol-related fatalities are on the decline in Illinois, thanks to Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s leadership on this issue, and we want to keep it that way," said Timothy W. Martin, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). "That is why IDOT initiating the largest impaired driving enforcement effort of its kind. During the weekend campaign called You Drink & Drive. You Lose. state, county and local law enforcement will conduct 800 roadside safety checks statewide. Our goal is to ensure everyone has a happy and safe July 4th holiday and gets home in one piece."
The impaired driving crackdown fits in with Gov. Rod Blagojevich's overall traffic safety goal of reducing traffic deaths to 1,000 or less by the end of 2008. Provisional numbers for 2004 showed that there were 98 fewer deaths on Illinois roadways. IDOT officials credit the Governor's strengthening of seat belt and child safety seat laws in 2003 for playing a major role in reducing the death toll.
The July 4th law enforcement action – which extends from June 27 to July 10 - coincides with the one of the year’s deadliest holiday driving seasons. During the 2003 Independence Day holiday, 514 motorists died nationwide in traffic crashes, 55 percent of those crashes were alcohol-related. In Illinois, 24 people were killed in traffic crashes. Annually in Illinois, over 44 percent of all traffic crashes involve alcohol. Law enforcement in Illinois will focus its efforts in the counties that are historically problematic for impaired driving. "During the past several years over 60 percent of all alcohol related fatalities occurred in just eleven Illinois counties. These include Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kankakee, McHenry, Lake, Winnebago, and Will Counties in northern Illinois, Sangamon County in central Illinois and Madison and St. Clair Counties in the Metro East region," according to Larry Trent, Director of the Illinois State Police.
"We will be conducting roadside safety checks with county and local law enforcement agencies in these counties to catch and arrest drunk drivers. Would-be impaired drivers should consider yourselves warned if You Drink & Drive. You Lose," Trent added.
Law enforcement in these counties and around the state will be taking a zero tolerance approach to impaired driving. Violators risk losing their licenses, vehicle, money, mobility, and possibly their freedom, if sentenced to jail. "This holiday season, drive smart and don’t take chances with your freedom. Chances are you will be caught. And remember if You Drink & Drive. You Lose," Secretary Martin concluded.