Weekend patrols saw sharp spike in DUI arrests

By Maggie Vespa

June 26, 2012 Updated Jun 26, 2012 at 10:11 PM CDT

CENTRAL Ill. -- A Bloomington woman is dead, and a second person is injured following a Sunday hit and run.

Officials say the driver was legally drunk.

Illinois State police say while any death at the hands of a drunk driver is tragic, the community is fortunate more lives weren't lost this past weekend.

Authorities say 21 year-old Bloomington resident Lauren Leffler was headed home from a local bar early Sunday with a friend, when it happened.

A car, allegedly driven by 23 year-old Katie Lawson, hits the pair, then speeds away.

Lawson is in jail, facing multiple charges, including driving under the influence of alcohol.

That same night, further west, Illinois State Police were out doing roadside safety checks. Typically those produce two to four DUI arrests. Police say this weekend was a frightening exception.

"Unfortunately on Saturday night, there were ten arrests for DUI's, which is an extremely high number," said State Trooper Dustin Pierce.

Pierce says most of those arrested had blood alcohol levels of .1 or higher, far above the legal limit of .08.

He says too many don't see the consquences.

"They think they'll be fine. They're just going a short distance, maybe. They're going to make it home, but then it ends up in a crash with tragic results," said Pierce.

The spike in DUI's comes just ahead of the department's scheduled announcement increased patrols this 4th of July weekend.

Pierce says, on top of asking people who have been drinking to use a designated driver or call a cab, they're also calling on sober drivers, to keep a look out on the roads.

They say if you see someone you think may be impaired, call 911.

"Give them a description of the vehicle, the license plate, and your location," said Pierce. "They will put out a message for all the law enforcement agencies in the area to get that vehicle stopped."

Advice they hope will bring these numbers back down, and keep another tragedy out of the headlines.

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