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Holiday weekend raises drunk driving concerns

Evanston police are reminding people planning to celebrate the New Year’s holiday of the importance of using a designated driver or public transportation rather than taking the risk of drinking and driving.

“Driving Under the Influence” is defined as operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, other drugs or intoxicating compounds and methamphetamine.

In Illinois, a driver is legally considered to be under the influence if he/she has a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more, has used any illegal substance, or is impaired by medication. A driver’s BAC is based on the ratio of alcohol to blood or breath. However, an individual with a BAC between .05 and .08 may be convicted of DUI if additional evidence determines that the driver was impaired.

Last year, Illinois became one of only six states to require a first-time DUI offender to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device installed on his or her vehicle as a condition of driving relief. Since implementation of the law, the number of vehicles utilizing a BAIID has increased approximately 150 percent. This new law ensures that fewer drivers get behind the wheel after drinking.

“Use It & Lose It” penalties apply to any driver under age 21 who has any trace of alcohol in his/her system or who refuses to submit to chemical testing. First offense— Suspension of driving privileges for 3 months for a BAC of more than .00; suspension of driving privileges for 6 months for refusal to submit to or failure to complete testing. Second offense — Suspension of driving privileges for 1 year for a BAC of more than .00; suspension of driving privileges for 2 years for refusal to submit to or failure to complete testing.

Police say the average DUI offender in Illinois is:

  • Male (79 percent arrested are men).
  • Age 34 (61 percent are under age 35).
  • Arrested between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. on a weekend.
  • Caught driving with a BAC of .16 — twice the illegal limit. 

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