DUI arrests up in the suburbs following dip during the pandemic

  • Impaired driving arrests in Elgin increased by over 18% in 2021, putting the city in the top five for overall arrests in Illinois outside of Chicago.

      Impaired driving arrests in Elgin increased by over 18% in 2021, putting the city in the top five for overall arrests in Illinois outside of Chicago. Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2019

 
 
Updated 7/26/2022 2:21 PM

After a dip in DUI arrests during the pandemic, several suburbs saw their numbers climb in 2021.

Recently released statistics by the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists showed three of the top four Illinois municipalities for DUI arrests outside of Chicago were in the suburbs. Aurora, Lombard and Elgin ranked second, third and fourth, respectively, behind Decatur.

 

AAIM, an Illinois-only citizen activist group founded in 1982 by victims of drunken driving, provides the survey annually and encourages residents to compare the DUI enforcement record of their local police department with that of other communities.

Elgin Police Department officers made 276 arrests in 2021, up from 233 in 2020. Those numbers still trail the 393 arrests they made in 2019, the last full year without COVID mitigations.

Sgt. Mike Martino, Elgin Police Department's public information officer, said the increase wasn't unexpected.

"There's definitely a direct correlation in regards to the relaxation of COVID guidelines in terms of people being able to go out and the establishments being open again," he said.

The survey of 700 police departments showed Aurora with 325 arrests in 2021 and Lombard with 300. That was an increase of 62.5% over 2020 for Aurora and 32% for Lombard.

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Lombard Police Chief Roy Newton said in a news release that his department continues to show a zero-tolerance policy in regard to intoxicated driving.

"Our efforts to save lives by getting impaired drivers off the road has consistently led the department to rank among the top departments in the state for DUI arrests," Newton said. "While we are proud of this work, our goal is to one day have no impaired drivers to arrest."

DuPage County suburbs Carol Stream (seventh with 250 arrests), Elmhurst (eighth with 235) and Naperville (ninth with 227) placed in the top 10.

AIMM Executive Director Rita Kreslin said progress has been made to eliminate impaired driving in Illinois.

"While frustratingly slow, many lives have been saved," Kreslin said in a news release. "Focused efforts and cooperation of law enforcement agencies, traffic safety advocates and communities have helped to prevent crashes and save thousands of lives."

Martino said Elgin will continue to prioritize DUI enforcement.

"It has such a far-reaching effect on families and the community," he said. "With all the ride-share programs available, taxi services and family and friends, there's really no excuse to not be able to find somebody to drive safely."

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