An overwhelming number of drivers will be on the roads this weekend going from one party to another or other events. While most will adhere to the law, police want all motorists to know that they will be out looking for drunk drivers.
Illinois State Police Trooper Calvin Dye said this is the time of year when “people have a lot of parties, get togethers and social gatherings. We know alcohol will be served at many of the events. We want people to be responsible and if they’ve consumed too much liquor have a designated driver or call someone to drive them home.”
A bad decision like choosing to drive intoxicated can have lasting effects including jail time and loss of employment, Dye said.
Police enforcement will be stepped up, and he said officers will be specifically focusing on alcohol enforcement.
Before you get behind the wheel impaired, “think about your wife and kids. If you lose your job because of a bad decision. There is no re-doing,” Dye said. “If you’re over 0.08 you’re going to jail and it will change your life.”
The additional officers will be doing safety check points. When motorists are pulled over, Dye said, “they will have to give the officer their driver’s license and insurance card to make sure it is valid.
If an officer walks up to a vehicle and spots open alcohol or smells alcohol on the driver, he or she will automatically have the driver step out of the vehicle and take a sobriety test, according to Dye.
“All state’s attorneys offices in the metro-east are very strict — if somebody was killed or injured by someone who chose to drink and drive, the message is simple... Don’t do it. It will change your life forever,” Dye said.
On Saturday, safety checkpoints were deployed from 8 a.m. to noon. During that time, Illinois State Police issued 31 citations in St. Clair County, Dye said.
Three motorists were cited for drunken driving and 22 were ticketed for seat belt violations. Other citations included:
- One child restraint violation
- One violation for driving with a revoked driver's license
- One violation for driving with a suspended driver's license
Steve Johnson, chief of police in Swansea, said this time of year is a busy time on area roads, and police want people to travel safely.
“We’re urging everyone to drive sober and plan a safe ride home before drinking at holiday celebrations,” he said. “We want everyone to enjoy themselves and that includes getting home in one piece. Nothing ruins a holiday like a DUI arrest or worst hurting or killing someone else because you’ve had too much to drink.”
And to help ensure motorists are safe this holiday weekend, Johnson said, “we will have extra Swansea officers out looking for unsafe drivers.
“We also want to stress to people on the road to put the cell phone down while driving,” he said. “Distracted driving is hurting a lot of people. The call or text can wait. Your life is worth it.”
St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson said extra deputies will be out on patrol during the holiday.
“We will be looking for motorists who are texting and talking on cellphones while they are driving, and we will be looking for drunk drivers, too,” he said. “Distracted driving is getting to be real serious. I see it all of the time, and so do my deputies. We will be enforcing the law. We want to save some lives.”
Watson warned motorists to “drive carefully” as they hit the roads this weekend and said anyone who chooses to drive while impaired or distracted will “have to live with that for the rest of their lives.”
Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503