Naperville and Waukegan are the top two.....
DUI deaths going up, suburban group says
By Dave Orrick Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Even though police in Illinois arrested more drunken drivers last year than the year before, fatalities from DUI-related crashes are expected to be up, too, according to a suburban anti-DUI group's annual report.
In addition, the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists is concerned that a bad economy, attention to homeland security, and general apathy might be allowing too many drivers to get away with illegally drinking and driving.
"A lot of departments are beefing up homeland security, and their budgets are stretched thin," said Charlene Chapman, executive director of Schaumburg-based AAIM.
"We need to make sure departments don't overlook the importance of traffic patrols."
She noted that fugitive felons and would-be terrorists are often nabbed in otherwise routine traffic stops.
Statewide, police made more arrests for DUI in 2003 than in 2002, continuing a three-year trend, she said. But that trend is counterbalanced by a generally steady increase in fatalities in alcohol-related wrecks from 1997 to 2002. Hard numbers aren't available yet for 2003 DUI fatalities, but Chapman said early indications from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggest the trend continued last year.
AAIM's annual report, which includes a department-by-department survey and a review of state records, showed places with an established emphasis on DUI enforcement - including numerous suburbs - continued to lead the state.
Even though both Naperville and Waukegan made fewer arrests in 2003 than the year before, both maintained their status in the top two, aside from Chicago, according to the report.
And like their largest cities, police in Lake and DuPage counties were among the most prolific of suburbs. For example, nine of the top 45 departments for total DUI busts were from DuPage County. And six of the top 15 departments were located within Lake County, when measured by arrests per officer, an indicator of a department's emphasis on DUI enforcement.
Focusing on enforcement can have a huge impact, Chapman said, pointing to Springfield, which hired two officers solely responsible for nabbing drunken drivers and saw arrests increase by 378, or 169 percent, from 2002 to 2003.
"Which of those drivers might have gone out and killed or seriously injured someone? Who can say?" Chapman said. "But they're off the road."
The other top departments cited for increasing their DUI busts were Mount Prospect, Barrington-Inverness, Villa Park, Wilmette and Itasca.