Police cracking down on holiday weekend

By Gus Bode

The Labor Day weekend is a time for people across Southern Illinois to kick back with a beer in hand, grill out and enjoy the last fleeting days of summer.

But if alcohol and driving enter the mix, citizens could be getting a free ride-straight to county jail.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced yesterday that Illinois invested $950,000 in the national ‘You Drink, You Drive, You Lose’ program, which will center on the Labor Day holiday. More than 200 roadside safety checks by state and local police are scheduled.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 16,649 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in 2004, a two percent decrease from 2003.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and SIUC Police are also using grants to step up enforcement starting tonight and until Monday.

The $44,000 grant is being used to add cameras to squad cars and hire extra officers for the holiday weekend, said Sgt. Michael O’Leary of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. The grant will add six more officers.

“These officers we bring in will be designated strictly for DUI and traffic enforcement,” O’Leary said.

The SIUC Police are also using a separate grant from the government to add two more officers on the streets, said Todd Sigler, director of Public Safety.

Last September, SIUC Police arrested 11 people for driving under the influence of alcohol. Sigler said he hopes the added officers will curb students from drinking and driving.

The Carbondale Police Department won’t be adding extra enforcement, but the officers will be keeping attention on ensuring traffic moves safely and slowly, Carbondale Police Chief Steve Odum said.


“People see Labor Day as the last day of summer, and there will be extra holiday traffic, so the officers will be monitoring the safe movement of traffic … and alcohol enforcement issues,” Odum said.

Reporter Matthew McConkey can be reached at [email protected]