Editorial: Kane County focuses on fighting drunk driving during holiday weekend

By on July 2, 2009

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a good time during the weekend of the Fourth of July. For many, that involves get-togethers, cookouts, picnics and other outdoor activities; and for many of those, they will add a few drinks to the mix.

While there is nothing wrong with having a few drinks, there is something extremely wrong if those who do drink then choose to get behind the wheel of an automobile.

To that end, the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday a collaborative effort between the State’s Attorney’s Office and local police to deter drinking and driving July 3 and 4.

The effort, called a “No Refusal Operation,” means that suspected drunken drivers will not be able to avoid prosecution by refusing to submit to a requested blood alcohol content test.

The operation is multi-faceted. Additional patrol officers will be out, specifically looking for erratic drivers who may be intoxicated. Additionally, there will be a streamlined process in place to allow law enforcement personnel to more quickly obtain a search warrant for a blood sample for those who refuse a breath test.

According to a press release from his office, Kane County State’s Attorney John Barsanti will not reveal the location or locations of this weekend’s operation in an attempt to deter holiday revelers county-wide from drinking and then driving.

“It is our primary objective that the “No Refusal Weekend” stings serve as a deterrent to drunken driving,” Barsanti said in the release. “If we charge zero DUIs in the targeted areas this weekend, we will consider the operation a success. Our message is simple: If you drink alcohol, please get a safe ride home.”

The State’s Attorney’s Office also shared a number of eye-opening statistics about drinking, driving and accidents during the July 4th holiday.

In 2007, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 34 percent of all drivers involved in traffic-related crashes during the Fourth of July holiday possessed a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

During the same time period, a total of 200 traffic-related fatalities were reported. Of those, 44 percent involved a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher.

In 2007, 41,059 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Of those, 12,998 people were killed in traffic crashes that involved at least one driver with a BAC of .08 or higher.

Those numbers are expected to be higher this year because July 4 is on a Saturday and is part of a three-day weekend for many people, the State’s Attorney’s Office said.

The best way to ensure the safety of yourself, your loved ones and others on the roadway is simple: If you drink, don’t even think about getting behind the wheel; and if you don’t, then make sure that if you know someone is, you help ensure they have a safe ride home.