MORRIS – On May 22, Dana Morse and his son Andrew sat on the patio outside their home on Armstrong Street in Morris. It was late and the two couldn’t fall asleep.
“We were just sitting there when all of the sudden we heard this loud crash,” Dana Morse said. “We jumped up, ran over and we seen this guy who had slammed two cars just sitting in the middle of the road.”
The driver started his vehicle again, drove toward the Morse household and narrowly missed another car before his vehicle died, Morse said.
“He was trying to take off again, but I finally got the keys from him and called the police,” Dana Morse said.
Andrew Morse got out his camera and took pictures of the damage.
“We were just doing our civic duty – what anyone would do – nothing special,” Andrew Morse said.
But Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland would disagree. During Tuesday’s county board meeting, Helland presented Dana Morse with an award recognizing him as the first DrunkBuster of Grundy County.
DrunkBusters – a program that rewards people who report erratic driving to their local police – began in Grundy County in May. Helland worked with Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists to get the program started.
“We’re trying to take a proactive approach so families aren’t affected by drunk driving,” Helland said.
Through the DrunkBusters program, reports of dangerous driving that lead to arrests – as Morse’s report did – are rewarded.
“I didn’t even know about this DrunkBusters program until a friend mentioned it,” Morse said. “Next thing I know, I got a $100 check in the mail.”
AAIM executive director Rita Kreslin said most DrunkBusters aren’t aware of the program until a local police officer tells them they are eligible for the award.
“We want people to be safe,” Kreslin said. “We don’t want people to be vigilantes and take matters into their own hands.”
Helland assured the program is not funded through taxpayer money. Funds come from the fines paid by by drunk driving offenders.
“DUI fines work differently in every county, but a portion of the fines go to alcohol and drug prevention programs. That’s how we’re funded,” Kerslin said.
Aside from Grundy, DrunkBusters is active in Kane, Will, Lake, McHenry and DuPage counties.
Kreslin said some counties have had to temporarily suspend giving reward money because the funds coming in cannot keep up with the number of DrunkBusters.
“Sometimes, the reward money comes out of pocket,” Kreslin said. “We would never turn a DrunkBuster away because we didn’t have the funds. We will always send a courtesy letter.”
Morse said he thinks he doesn’t deserve the award, but is happy to have received it. He said he split the reward money with his son.
“It’s really nice to get something like this,” Morse said. “I’ve been telling people about this program ever since, trying to get the word out.”