DUI crackdown over Labor Day weekend

CHICAGO As drivers gear up for the long Labor Day weekend, there is sobering news about alcohol-related traffic deaths.

"In 2007, there were 12,998 fatalities in the country as a result of those drivers who consumed alcohol, had a BAC of .08 and died and killed other individuals as well," said Mike Whitter, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

With that in mind, 11,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide are beginning a two-week, beefed up traffic patrol, zeroing in on drunk and impaired driving. In Illinois, police agencies will be conducting hundreds of roadside safety checks along with additional roving patrols. One tool used in this state to battle DUI is the BAIID system, or Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device.

"If you've been placed on this system you have to blow into the tube, and if alcohol is detected the car won't start," said Jesse White, Illinois secretary of state.

Beginning in January 2009, a new law will require first time DUI offenders to install the BAIID system at their own expense.

Illinois State Police will be conducting a fairly new enforcement over the long holiday weekend called "Stay Alive on the I's." If your Labor Day plans call for expressway driving, you won't miss it.

"The idea is to put a trooper on the interstates every 10 miles, on the interstates throughout the state, so I-57, the entire length, I-55 the entire length and up here in the Chicago metro area and on the tollways, we'll be a lot closer than that," said Captain Tami Haukedahl, District 15 ISP.

These special patrols will be on the most dangerous days of the Labor Day weekend: Friday August 29, from 2 p.m. to midnight and Monday, September 1, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

And they're not focused only on drunk drivers. They'll be ticketing violators of the "fatal five," speeding, seatbelts, improper lane usage, following too close and construction zone violations. There will be a zero tolerance policy for all of the above.

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