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Drunk Driving by the Numbers

New Year’s Eve continues a big night for drunk driving enforcement and arrests.

The slogan “Don’t Drink and Drive” can become trite until you consider the numbers. Numbers like the 258 lives lost in Illinois in drunk driving crashes in 2012.

It is one of the statistics that local and state police hope makes you think twice about drinking and driving, especiall tonight as holiday celebrations continue for New Year's Eve. 

Police throughout the area, including sheriff’s deputies in Lake, Cook and McHenry County, will be conducting special drunk driving enforcements.

Illinois State police will be conducting roadside safety checks and special alcohol enforcement on highways and tollways. The patrols will focus on four areas that often cause fatal crashes: speeding, DUI, seat belt compliance and distracted driving, according to an Illinois State police press release. 

“Alcohol or drug impairment is a significant factor in more than 40 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in Illinois,” District 15 Commander Captain Joe Perez said. “The Illinois State Police has zero tolerance for impaired driving.”

Midnight to 3 a.m. is the deadliest time on Illinois roads, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The data also shows alcohol and lack of seat belts play a significant role in fatal crashes.

Palatine police will be conducting special holiday enforcement to ensure the roads are safe. 

Secretary of State Jesse White’s office has an Illinois DUI Fact Book 2012 with more sobering numbers:

49,527: The number of people arrested in 2012 who were three time offenders, according to the fact book.

34 years old: The average DUI offender is male (77 percent arrested are men) and aged 34 (59 percent are under age 35)

.08 BAC: The state’s .08 illegal BAC became law in July 1997. At .08, all drivers are impaired to the point that critical driving skills are greatly diminished. Studies indicate that a .08 BAC impairs a driver’s ability to steer, break, change lanes, switch gears, and speed control, according to the fact book.

80 percent: Percentage of alcohol-related crash fatalities are caused by drivers with no arrests for drunk driving during the previous three years.

$16,580: The average cost of a DUI is $16,580. The amount includes high-risk insurance, legal fees, court costs, income loss, rehabilitation, driver’s license reinstatement and installation of the Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device.

There is some good news when it comes to DUI fatalities. MADD reports a 22 percent decrease in fatalities since the state’s all offender interlock law went into affect in 2009.

MADD and police recommend designating a sober driver before going out or call ahead for a taxi if you are drinking for the night.

So enjoy yourself tonight, but if you plan to drink, stay in, call a cab or have a designated driver so you don't become a statistic this year. 

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