State and local law-enforcement will be conducting one of the largest DUI crackdowns in state history this holiday weekend, with hundreds of roadside safety checks to take place statewide.

Starting today, State Police and local authorities will conduct roadside checks and begin increased patrols targeting alcohol-impaired drivers. In Illinois, more than 40 percent of all traffic crashes are alcohol-related, state officials said.

“This is all part of the normal 4th of July enforcement effort,” said State Police spokesman Lt. Lincoln Hampton on Wednesday. “We’ll be working with local authorities in Chicago and suburbs like Oak Park, concentrating on drunk driving.”

While state police officers will be operating on and near expressways, Chicago police will also focus on other areas. Here on the West Side, 25th District police will be conducting “Roadside Safety Checks” the evening of July 1 from 8 p.m. on Friday, July 1, until 4 a.m. on Saturday, July 2. Police will slow traffic on North Avenue at Kilpatrick and stop cars at regular intervals. Like their state counterparts, Chicago police will speak with drivers, observing for signs of alcohol impairment and other violations.

Such operations are conducted regularly in the 15th and 25th districts in Austin, as well as neighboring police districts such as the 10th, 11th, 13th and 14th police districts.

The operation is one of two enforcement programs Chicago police have developed over the past three years in an effort to target specific areas with beefed-up enforcement capabilities to spot and stop motorists who are driving while impaired or otherwise operating their vehicles in an unsafe manner.

Besides targeting individuals driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, officers are looking for open liquor, insurance, seat belt, driver’s license, and city sticker violations, as well as other traffic violations.

While Roadside Safety Checks are stationary operations?”usually on North Avenue at Kilpatrick in the 25th District, and in the 5400 block of West Madison Street in the 15th?”the DUI Strike Force is a mobile operation that is spread out in a selected area. The purpose of the program is to saturate a pre-designated area with roving police officers who continually monitor vehicular traffic for signs of impaired driving. Patrols place emphasis on speed, alcohol-related, and safety belt violations. Police vehicles equipped for speed detection are deployed to apprehend speeding violators.

“The purpose of the program is to apprehend drivers who are operating vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” said Superintendent Philip J. Cline recently. “The program also offers an opportunity to issue citations to drivers who are otherwise a hazard to themselves and others on the public way.”

The CPD conducted a DUI Strike Force Patrol in the 25th District just last week, beginning at 7 p.m., Friday, June 24 and ending at 3 a.m., Saturday, June 25. The same program was conducted in the neighboring 15th District back on April 1.

The operations usually result in about a hundred citations being issued during each 8-hour period. Though on July 10, 2004 the Traffic Division of the CPD conducted a Saturation Patrol in the 15th District that netted a grand total of 248 violations, including 60 speeding and 81 other moving violations.

The Roadside Safety Checks are funded through a grant from the National Highway Safety Administration that is administered through the Illinois Department of Transportation.