Courtesy David Powers

Oak Park Police issued 25 citations – including five for driving under the influence – during a late-night crackdown over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend that targeted drunken drivers and individuals not wearing seat belts.

Police stopped 40 motorists between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. over the two nights, focusing their efforts when statistics show that the highest numbers of motorists drink and drive and the fewest use seat belts.

“Too often individuals get caught up in the holiday spirit and don’t think before they get behind the wheel, which is a serious accident just waiting to happen,” said Oak Park Deputy Chief Anthony Ambrose. “Our goal is to get impaired drivers off the road before they hurt themselves and others.”

Ambrose said that while the primary focus of the holiday crackdown was on impaired drivers, police also were on the lookout for motorists and passengers who were not wearing seatbelts.

“It is not just about enforcing the letter of the law that requires vehicle passengers to buckle up, but also educating the public about their responsibility,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a ticket to get people to think seriously about the risks when they don’t take the simple, yet proven life-saving step of buckling a seatbelt.”

The Oak Park crackdown was part of a statewide effort funded by federal traffic safety grants through Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety as part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and Click It or Ticket public education campaigns.

Similar high-visibility enforcement efforts are launched during other major holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

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