Aurora is No. 2 in total DUI arrests, while Lombard has top rate per officer
Suburban police departments scored high in the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists' annual survey of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol arrests in Illinois.
Not including Chicago, Rockford police made the most DUI arrests -- 552 -- in 2018, while Aurora came second with 446 arrests and Elgin was fourth with 374, the group announced Thursday.
Elgin police have put an emphasis on training officers in detecting all types of impaired drivers for the last six years, Traffic Unit Lt. Jeff Adam said. Rather than send squad cars to specific locations to find drunken or high motorists, Elgin officers are taught to watch driving behavior, Adam explained.
"It's the vehicle you're looking at and what it does that draws your attention," he said. Although speeding seems like an obvious giveaway, it's not, Adam noted.
Instead, using the wrong lane, taking wide turns, falling asleep at traffic lights and forgetting to turn on headlights are among the warning signs, he said.
The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists also tallied department scores based on rate per officer. Lombard was first with an arrest rate of 4.54, followed by Carol Stream with 4.52 and Elmhurst with 3.79.
Illinois lawmakers approved recreational use of marijuana in June -- a move opposed by police departments across the state. But with decriminalization coming Jan. 1, are authorities preparing for a spike in impaired arrests?
"Based on what we've seen with statistics in states that have already legalized cannabis -- yes," Lombard police Lt. Joe Grage said. "But we're also preparing and making sure officers are trained in detection of drugged drivers as well as drunk ones."
One of the greatest challenges to police is the lack of an approved test, such as a Breathalyzer for alcohol, to detect marijuana impairment, Elmhurst Police Chief Michael Ruth said.
"We hope to see no change (in arrests in 2020) but we don't know what to expect," Ruth said. "It's all new territory for us."
Chicago police made 1,840 DUI arrests in 2018 compared to 1,982 in 2017, The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists reported.
"Today with many people arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or a controlled substance, the priority for law enforcement is even higher," the group's executive director, Rita Kreslin, said.
1. Rockford, 552 arrests
2. Aurora, 446 arrests
3. Decatur, 391 arrests
4. Elgin, 374 arrests
5. Cicero, 315 arrests
6. Carol Stream, 280 arrests
7. Elmhurst, 277 arrests
8. Naperville, 261 arrests
9. Bloomington, 244 arrests
10. Springfield, 233 arrests