Illinois State Police to increase safety checks over St. Patrick's Day

SPRINGFIELD, IL (KFVS) - The Illinois Department of Transportation is partnering with state and local law enforcement to boost safety for St. Patrick's Day.

IDOT and Illinois State Police are working with more than 150 law enforcement agencies to remind everyone to act responsibly, buckle up and designate a sober driver before the parties begin.

"We hope the St. Patrick's Day holiday continues to be the popular and joyous celebration it has become, without being spoiled by impaired drivers," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig.  "For those thinking about drinking and driving, the message is clear. Don't do it.  Designate a sober driver before the party begins or risk arrest, a DUI charge or even worse. Nothing good can come from drinking and driving."

Beginning March 11 and continuing through the weekend following March 17, an estimated $800,000 in federal highway safety dollars to Illinois will fund roadside safety checks, saturation patrols and other impaired driving countermeasures along with nighttime safety belt and other patrols.

In addition, 157 local law enforcement agencies are participating in a combined total of more than 500 roadside safety checks, safety belt enforcement zones and other enforcement details during the entire St. Patrick's Day period.

According to data from the Illinois Department of Transportation, during the past five years in Illinois, 15 people died in motor vehicle crashes on St. Patrick's Day.  Seven of those fatalities involved a driver who had been drinking alcohol.  During the same timeframe, a total of 1,261 people were injured in St. Patrick's Day crashes.  Last year on St. Patrick's Day in Illinois, one person died in a crash but it did not involve a drinking driver.  (Fatalities occurring on March 17 from midnight through 11:59p.m.)

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