Sheriff reinstates ‘Safe Ride Home’ program

ROCKFORD — The Winnebago County Sheriff’s program to keep roads safe on New Year’s Eve has been reinstated Sheriff Gary Caruana reported.

Caruana announced Wednesday that the Safe Ride Home program will continue as a public-private partnership between the county and LaMonica Beverages.

The news comes a week after Caruana announced he was canceling the program because of budget constraints.

The Safe Ride Home program will be staffed by six deputies and one dispatcher. Rides within the county will be available from 10 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 31, to 5 a.m. New Year’s Day. Rides can be arranged by calling 815-639-4674.

“The support of LaMonica Beverages shows a strong commitment to the community, and will aid the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department in its effort to keep the public safe,” the sheriff’s department said in a release.

The free service will run parallel to increased DUI and seat-belt patrols throughout the state during the holiday weekend. More than 200 police agencies will join the Illinois State Police in an effort to ensure that intoxicated and unsafe drivers are off the roads.

There were 1,055 road fatalities on Illinois roads in 2016. Many of those crashes involved a drunk driver.

State police officials remind drivers that the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol can be severe. Even first-time offenders can lose driving privileges, pay hefty fines and serve time in jail.

Following are potential fines and penalties for more than one DUI conviction.

Second DUI Conviction

  • Possible five-year loss of full driving privileges for a second conviction in a 20-year period.
  • Possible imprisonment for up to one year, community service, probation
  • Maximum fine of $2,500

Third DUI Conviction – Class 2 felony

    • Possible 10-year loss of full driving privileges
    • Possible imprisonment for up to seven years
    • Maximum fine of $25,000.

Aggravated DUI (Involving a crash that causes bodily harm or disfigurement)  – Class 4 felony

      • Possible loss of driving privileges
      • Up to 12 years in prison
      • Up to 480 hours community service
      • Maximum fine of $25,000

The Safe Ride Home program is now in its 37th year. R.

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