NORMAL — While police always are on the lookout for drunk or drugged drivers, their focus will intensify later this month thanks to an inaugural program involving Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
MADD is asking state, county and local police agencies to increase enforcement during the evening of Aug. 25 through early Aug. 26 in the first-ever Saturation Saturday enforcement initiative.
“We want to really bring awareness to the dangers of driving while impaired,” said Allison Seys, MADD Illinois program coordinator.
Normal Police Department will host a number of events Aug. 25, including a roll call of departments involved in the program and providing a light dinner for participating area officers. That will be followed by a program to bring attention to the dangers of impaired driving; officers will be released by 9 p.m. to begin or continue their enforcement.
“We are very proud to participate in this for such a great cause,” said Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner.
Seys knows all too well the impact drunk driving can have. She was a passenger in the back seat of a car that was hit by a drunk driver in March 2014. Also in that car was Michael Collins, a Normal West graduate who died five days after the crash.
“So this is very special to me and during the Saturday night program, we are going to be hearing a few stories like that so that people understand how dangerous drinking and driving can be,” she said.
Bloomington Police and the McLean County Sheriff’s Department will participate in the program, Seys said.
“It takes a group effort and teamwork to initiate change,” said Sam Canzoneri, state executive director for MADD Illinois. “Through the dedicated efforts of law enforcement and organizations like MADD, we have worked to change public perceptions regarding impaired driving. Progress has been made, but there is still much work that needs to be done in the area of this 100 percent preventable crime.”
Saturation Saturday will occur in conjunction with the Labor Day Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, which runs Aug. 20 through Sept. 4. Agencies focus on DUI and alcohol-related enforcement, including sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols, or simply adding officers to the schedule.
Agencies are encouraged to dedicate their enforcement efforts to a local victim or family whose lives have been impacted by impaired driving.