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Law enforcement to crack down during Fourth of July weekend

Law enforcement to crack down during Fourth of July weekend

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MARIOn -- Illinois had 18 people killed in 17 fatal traffic crashes over a four-day period last year during the Fourth of July weekend.

It's a statistic that state and local law enforcement officials do not want to see repeated this year.

"We will be out to see that motorists drive responsibly," said Trooper Joey Watson of District 13 Illinois State Police during a Wednesday news conference. "The ISP (Illinois State Police) will be out to enforce speeding, driving under the influence, seat belt usage and distracted driving," 

Joining Watson at the news conference, "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" and "Click It or Ticket," at the Williamson County Sheriff's Office were Tia Smith of the Division of Transportation Safety at the Illinois Department of Transportation and Brian Murrah of the Williamson County Sheriff's Office.

A prime contributing factor to fatality accidents was alcohol. There were six people killed where alcohol was detected of the 18 deaths in 2013. Officials said there will be increased traffic patrol to catch drivers who are intoxicated.

"DUI (driving under the influence) is a senseless crime. DUI is a crime that kills," Smith said.

The crime carries stiff penalties with license suspensions, costly fines, jail time and even imprisonment, she said.

Watson said drivers need to pay attention and respect rules of the road.

Traffic Sgt. Doug Wilson of the Carbondale Police Department attended the news conference. He said the police department received extra federal grant money to pay for more officer and patrol time during the holiday period.

He said police officers will patrol Carbondale neighborhoods, Illinois 13 and other heavy traffic areas.

Murrah said people or proprietors hosting holiday parties where alcohol is available should be responsible for their guests.

"Think of designated drivers or providing cab service beforehand," Murrah said.

Spokesman Chris Young of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said Illinois Conservation Police will be out in full force over the weekend.

They will be concentrating on waterways and state parks. Officers will be on the lookout for motorists and boaters operating under the influence of drugs and alcohol, Young said.

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