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December 22, 2010

Illinois Data Shows Unbuckled Individuals Pay High Cost for Drinking and Driving
IDOT, Health Care, State and Local Law Enforcement Officials Partner to Increase Traffic Safety Awareness over the Holiday Weekend

CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), health care professionals, and state and local law enforcement agencies have teamed up statewide to unveil data showing the tremendous cost of unbuckled motorists driving impaired. The announcement emphasizes the continued partnership between IDOT and law enforcement and highlights an increase in late-night enforcement and safety belt patrols scheduled for the upcoming holiday weekend.

“People who make the individual decision to drink and drive will face many costs they often can never repay,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig.  “A DUI arrest in Illinois can cost you around $19,000 and a possible visit to jail.  A hospital visit after an alcohol-involved crash can cost over $70,000 and the costs of the harm done following a senseless death is immeasurable.”

The data was released as the Illinois State Police and local law enforcement step-up impaired driving and safety belt enforcement ahead of the holiday season for the “You Drink & Drive. You Lose./Click It or Ticket” Holiday Crackdown.  Now through the end of the year, more than 200 local law enforcement agencies will partner with the Illinois State Police to put an additional $1.3 million in traffic enforcement on Illinois roadways to include more than 100 roadside safety checks and more than 200 late-night safety belt enforcement zones.  These patrols are combined with a strong radio and TV media campaign reminding motorists of the high costs associated with drinking and driving and failing to buckle up.  Motorists are being warned to make the right decisions when traveling this holiday or risk a ticket, arrest and even jail time.

“Illinois has experienced a decrease in alcohol-related traffic fatalities this year, and we would like to see that trend continue,” said Illinois State Police Acting Director Jonathon Monken. “During the holiday season state Troopers and local law enforcement officers will be working together to aggressively enforce DUI, seat belt and child passenger safety laws. Our goal is to help make holiday travel a safe experience for everyone.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety estimates current DUI costs can reach as high as $19,000 factoring in expenses such as fines, court costs, insurance fees and attorney fees.  This estimate is for an individual arrested for DUI only and does not involve the tremendous costs incurred when a crash happens.  

Hospital costs associated with a serious crash are high in every case.  But data from the Illinois Department of Transportation shows a significantly higher hospital cost for drivers who were unbelted and had been drinking ($73,000) versus drivers who were belted and alcohol-free ($49,000).

The data shows the importance of safety belts in reducing injury severity, particularly in alcohol-involved crashes, and further brings to light the fact that drinking and driving and failure to buckle up is a costly and all-too-often deadly combination.  Related crash data also shows that the highest percentage of alcohol-involved fatalities occur during late night hours in Illinois, as well as the lowest safety belt use.

The Holiday law enforcement crackdown is funded by federal traffic safety funds through IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety and runs concurrently with a media campaign that reminds motorists, “You Drink & Drive. You Lose.” and “Click It or Ticket.”



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