Tuesday, Aug. 31

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Illinois participates in aggressive national effort to reduce drinking and driving

IDOT and law enforcement teaming up on "You Drink & Drive. You Lose"

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[AUG. 31, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police and local law enforcement agencies throughout Illinois are teaming up on one of the most aggressive impaired driving reduction efforts to date. IDOT and law enforcement will be delivering the "You Drink & Drive. You Lose" message to drivers during a 17-day enforcement period, centered on Labor Day weekend.

The more than two-week crackdown kicked off at news conferences throughout Illinois on last Thursday morning, notifying motorists that drinking and driving will not be tolerated in Illinois. This is the first national crackdown effort since all 50 states and the District of Columbia enacted 0.08 blood alcohol content laws for impaired driving.

In 2003, Illinois had 1,453 people killed in traffic crashes; of those fatalities, 639 were alcohol-related.

"We are trying to save lives with this stepped up enforcement during this 2-week period," said Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Tim Martin. "Between 2000 and 2003, 74 people were killed in Labor Day crashes. In 2003, 60 percent of our Labor Day fatalities were related to alcohol. That's unacceptable."

The weekend effort combines focused law enforcement efforts with a more than $14 million national advertising campaign, the largest paid media buy since the 1999 inception of You Drink & Drive. You Lose. Illinois' share of the media campaign is nearly $700,000 and will highlight strict enforcement of drunk-driving laws during the 17-day crackdown.

Statewide, more than 350 local law enforcement agencies will be teaming up with the Illinois State Police to conduct roadside safety checks and saturation patrols.

 

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"Our message is clear. We are taking a zero-tolerance approach to those who decide to drink and drive," said Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent. "You can expect to see law enforcement out in full force during the stepped-up enforcement period. I want to be very clear: If you drive while intoxicated, you will go to jail."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, studies show that nearly 97 percent of Americans view drinking and driving by others as a threat to their families and themselves. Americans support tougher enforcement and rank impaired driving ahead of health care, poverty, the environment and gun control as an issue of importance.

"We are committed to curb the problem of drinking and driving, which is an epidemic in Illinois," said Martin. "We believe that through strict law enforcement, we can combat this very real and deadly problem."

In addition to checking for impairment, police will also be checking for compliance with the Illinois primary enforcement seat belt law.

[Illinois Department of Transportation news release]

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