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Police: Drive sober or get pulled over this Independence Day

Police remind everyone to be safe this Fourth of July weekend and the dangers of drinking and driving.
Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 6:55 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - With more drivers on the roads traveling this weekend, police say the risks of getting behind the wheel are major.

As a result, State Police will have more troopers deployed on the highways as they anticipate greater traffic during this time due to holiday travel. Police from the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department also plan on having a higher police presence in the streets.

“We want everybody to have a good time on the holiday weekend, but we want everybody to do it in a safe manner. So be prepared ahead of time, call for a ride if you need one. But even better try and have a ride ahead of time so you can enjoy the weekend and get home safe,” said Winnebago County Sheriff Westley Kemp.

Some of the risks associated with drinking and driving include legal, financial, and harm or death to yourself or other drivers. State Troopers said if an accident did happen, wearing your seat belt could be the difference between life and death. The legal limit is .08, but what that looks like in terms of alcohol differs based on the size of the person.

The Illinois Department of Transportation reported that two of the 14 deaths during the Fourth of July last year were caused by alcohol. The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office reported that between July 3 and July 6, 2020, both the county and Machesney Park had zero DUI citations handed out over those days.

They advise that if you see someone driving drunk, get a description of the vehicle, make, model, license plate number, and direction they were traveling. Once you have that information pull over safely and call the police.

Police said ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft are some ways to get home safe, but a better option is to assign someone you know to be your designated driver. Luis Castillo used to be a security guard at an area bar for two years and has seen what alcohol can do to people. He advises people to be smart.

“Lots of fights I’ve seen girls fighting. I’ve seen a guy get shot in the back in the parking lot here,” said Castillo. “I probably almost got into an accident and I thought to myself ‘you know what that was a close call. That could’ve caused somebody some harm or myself some harm.’”

Area bartenders are obligated to keep any eye out for anyone they believe appears drunk. If that’s the case, you won’t be poured another glass.

“We’re not kicking them out of the bar, they can sit here, they can eat some food, they can drink some waters. We just for their safety and their own we will not serve them anymore liquor until they get back to a sober point,” said District Bar & Grill Bartender/Manager Emma McNabb.

In anticipation of a busy crowd, the bar will operate with five or six workers compared to their usual bartender and server. The bar also has taxi cards people can use to call a taxi if needed.

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