Targeted DUI patrols begin in advance of Labor Day holiday

Six police departments covering the core of Lake County have already begun enhanced patrols targeting drunken drivers in anticipation of the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Participating in the stepped up enforcement between Aug. 15 and Sept. 1 are Libertyville, Vernon Hills, unincorporated Lake County, Grayslake, Gurnee and Waukegan.

Funding for the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and the “Click It or Ticket” campaigns will be paid for by the Illinois Department of Transportation, through a Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) grant.

Authorities will be focusing on the early morning hours, the deadliest time of day for traffic crashes.

Citing IDOT statistics, Libertyville Police Chief Clint Herdegen said the hours between midnight and 3 a.m. are the deadliest. The time frame also has the highest percentage of alcohol involvement and the lowest occupant restraint use.

“The numbers don’t lie. To help prevent fatalities on Illinois roadways we are stepping up our late night enforcement efforts, making sure impaired drivers are off the road and motorists are buckled up,” Herdegen said.

Waukegan is adding 11 roving patrols and six days of seat-belt enforcement zones throughout the city. At each, motorists must stop for a roadside safety check.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office will step up patrols on land and water, with its Marine Unit also enhancing patrols on the Chain O’Lakes and Lake Michigan. Sheriff’s officers will also team with Gurnee police for a roadside safety check on Grand Avenue for Aug. 30, into the early morning hours of Aug. 31.

Gurnee will have additional special patrols out from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. in various parts of the village throughout the two-week period.

“Seat belts save thousands of lives every year, but far too many motorists still are not buckled up, especially in the back seat,” Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said.

Vernon Hills Police Chief Mark Fleischhauer said that while police departments are on the lookout for drunken drivers throughout the year, law enforcement agencies also know the Labor Day weekend is a busy time for special gatherings.

“All we ask is that everyone celebrates the end of the summer in an appropriate way. That includes making responsible choices if you’ve had too much to drink,” Fleischhauer said.

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