Police to check for DUIs

By George Niforatos

To help the fight against drunk driving, DeKalb Police have embarked on a new project inspired by a state of Illinois initiative.

A Roadside Safety Check project has been established in DeKalb to increase the involvement of local police stations in standard roadside checks.

“We want to have local agencies learn how to do roadside checks,” said Larry Wort, chief of the Illinois Bureau of Safety Problems.

Through the new program, the DeKalb Police Department will join forces with the state police in implementing four random DUI roadblocks in the DeKalb area within the next year.

According to Wort, the project was made possible by a special $7,359 alcohol grant from two agencies—the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The funds for the program will be used for the project’s costly necessities.

“It will pay for six private breath testers, 200 mouthpieces, the mileage of squad cars and overtime of police officers conducting the searches,” Wort said.

In routine roadside checks, officers check every car on a highway for valid license plates, properly functioning lights and proper amounts of tire tread.

“As he (an officer) walks around the car, if he sees an open bottle or smells alcohol, he will take the search further,” Wort said. “If he becomes convinced, he will conduct a standard field sobriety test.”

Wort said a DUI charge depends on a subject’s test performance.

A number of years ago, the department received a similar grant to help combat what DeKalb Police Lt. Robert McMorrow called a “higher than average” DUI rate.

Since there has not been a significant increase in the number of DeKalb DUIs in recent years, McMorrow said he was uncertain why the city of DeKalb was chosen as the grant’s recipient.

But McMorrow did support the project. “Our whole hope is that people obey the law and not drive drunk,” he said.