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DUI numbers drop, programs cited for decrease

Published: Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

MORRIS – Grundy County has seen a 6.6 percent decrease in driving under the influence arrests since 2012.

In 2012, Grundy County law enforcement officials made 181 misdemeanor DUI arrests, as compared to 169 in 2013, according to a news release from Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland.

“My feeling is when there is a culture of no-nonsense DUI enforcement and the laws are enforced, the community will act accordingly and DUI numbers will continue to decrease,” Helland said in the release. “If DUIs are not vigorously enforced, I would expect to see an increase in DUI numbers.”

While the decrease is a positive change, Helland said there still were four alcohol-related deaths in Grundy County in 2013, the same number as 2012.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” he said in the news release. “Four people lost their lives in 2013 due to impaired driving and these were totally preventable deaths.”

For the decreases, he credits preventative measures taken by the state’s attorney’s office and other local law enforcement agencies.

For the first time in Grundy County, Helland implemented “No Refusal” weekends in 2013. The first “No Refusal” weekend was during the Super Bowl, a weekend where DUI arrests are plentiful.

On May 15, Helland partnered with the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists to start another program in the county, the Drunk Buster Award program.

This program encourages drivers with cellphones to report impaired driving to the police.

“The purpose of the program is to deter people from thinking about driving a vehicle while impaired,” Helland said in the release. “The message we have sent to the public is simple – local law enforcement is actively looking to get impaired drivers off the road.”

These two agencies also partnered to put on school assemblies at local high schools to warn students of the dangers of destructive decision making.

In addition, the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) program also was started as an alternative to jail in order to benefit taxpayers and to increase public safety. Helland’s office asked Grundy County judges to require offenders to wear the SCRAM device as a condition of bond or probation when the offender has proven to be a serious repeat offender with a substance abuse problem.

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