Drivers Reporting Possible DUIs & Erratic Driving Increases In Chicago, IL Area

According to a June 8 Chicago Tribune article titled “Cellphone patrol: More drivers report DUIs” an increasing number of DUIs and erratic driving is being reported by other drivers via cellphones.

From the article:

“People call all the time about erratic drivers,” said Roger Wilson of Skokie’s emergency dispatch center. He said the village typically receives a couple such calls every day.

As an increasing number of people have instant communication tools available to them wherever they go, officials from Skokie and several other north and northwest communities say they now see a steady stream of calls from drivers reporting other motorists in real time.”

The article points out that authorities stress they don’t make arrests strictly based on a report from a motorist; the police officer has to observe the erratic driving and have probable cause.

Indications of impaired driving can include the following:

  • Driving too fast or too slow
  • Making wide turns
  • Drifting and/or weaving across traffic lanes
  • Erratic Braking
  • Driving without headlights at night

According to Mundelein police Chief Raymond Rose, it has become common to receive calls from motorists observing erratic behavior.

“There are lots of them happening,” Rose said. “They follow the idea of community policing and community involvement. They’re our eyes and ears. They’re helping us and the community.”

Some driver-safety groups offer rewards for reporting drunk drivers. Schaumburg-based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, or AAIM, has a program named “Drunkbusters” that pays callers $100 for any tip that leads to an drunken-driving arrest. The program runs statewide during holidays but also is in effect year-round, albeit only in Lake, Kane, DuPage and Will counties.

Under the program, callers must identify themselves to the police dispatcher handling the call. In some cases, the caller might be asked to stay on the line to help in locating or identifying the vehicle in question.

The next business day, the caller can check with the police department to determine if the call led to an arrest for drunken driving.

If so, written confirmation is submitted to AAIM and a $100 check will be mailed to the caller, AAIM officials said.

AAIM Vice President Marti Belluschi stresses that more than money is at stake.

“Traffic safety affects everyone,” said Belluschi, who said she was seriously injured as a teenager by a drunken driver who crossed three lanes of traffic and crashed head-on into her father’s car.

“I would always encourage everyone to call police if they observe erratic driving,” she said. “Public involvement is a large part of the answer to the problem of drunk driving.”

According to AAIM, the Drunkbusters program has paid out $445,000 and led to more than 4,450 DU arrests since its start in 1990 through 2010. Last year, 345 arrest reward payments were made under the program.

Many officials stress that motorists should not put themselves or others at risk while trying to report another driver’s erratic driving.

Callers who attempt to report an erratic driver are advised to provide a car description (including make, model and color); its location; and direction it is traveling, along with – if possible – a license plate number, description of the driver and number of passengers.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) “Fatal Crash Data for 2010” in the year 2010 there were 321 “Alcohol-Related Fatal Crashes” and 351 “Alcohol-Related Fatalities.”

In 2009, “41.2 percent of all fatally injured drivers who were tested had a positive Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).” As well, “35.8 percent of the fatally injured drivers 16-20 years of age who were tested had a positive BAC.”

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