To protect and profit in the Illinois Valley

Daniel Cook, IV LEADER Columnist

If you live in the Illinois Valley, chances are you know or know of someone who has a DUI.
Obviously, there is a matter of personal responsibility here, but I believe the inordinate amount of DUI arrests are due in part to a system that encourages it. It is, after all, an excellent source of revenue in this flat-broke state.
I enjoy my alcohol like many of us mid-westerners seem to do, but why is there so much of it? Take Ottawa, for example, and throw in Naplate just for fun (the entire town is located on Ottawa Avenue.)/ There are at least 34 liquor licenses I can think of off the top of my head, and I didn’t even include the gas stations or restaurants that sold only beer.
Now, consider that the entire south side of Ottawa is dry, and that Naplate and Ottawa combined don’t even crack 20,000 in population, and it becomes quite apparent that maybe the market is a little over-saturated.
Why issue that many liquor licenses? Clearly they want us to drink and be merry, yet rely on two privately owned cab companies who generally don’t have more than two taxis deployed at a time, to get us home safely.
Recently, in Marseilles, a man who was offering a cab service has been being harassed by local officials who feel that it’s important to require the cab service to have a storefront, even though he’s licensed.
Apparently there are people out there who would rather walk to a cab hub than use a phone to call a taxi to them, somewhat defeating the purpose of a taxi. Of course, rumors circulated that this was because local and state police assigned to the area were seeing a hit in their DUI numbers, figuring that making a buck should take prevalence over keeping dangerous folks off the roads. I can’t prove it, but I don’t doubt it.
I mean there is a monthly roadblock (or “checkpoint” because it sounds friendlier) on Route 71 between Marsailles and Ottawa, where you’re required to stop, regardless of any suspicious behavior, and sometimes asked to blow, once again regardless of any suspicious behavior. They actually can’t make you blow, but they can apply all the intimidation tactics they want.
Now you might be saying to yourself, “This practice seems to violate my fourth amendment rights,” and you’re right, except that because they can say they’re checking for illegals and not drunks, it’s a matter of National Security and that means anything goes.
This year the National Transportation Safety Board is pushing for a drop in the BAC limit from .08 to .05 and I would be surprised if Illinois didn’t throw in with them.
This means be REALLY careful about when you choose to use that Listerine next, and you probably shouldn’t roll around with those fresh breath strips either. And for you small-framed folks out there, this puts you at about a one beer limit; fun, right?
Ignoring the questionable BAC testing methods, (look them up) this really all can be avoided by personal responsibility.
However, drunk people do tend to make bad decisions, so maybe they could help us out a little. Instead of writing all these DUI’s how about some PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION?
They both make money, just one makes less, and our safety isn’t that important, right?

Fun fact: If you can provide a local ID and you are unable to drive safely, whether you’re drunk or just too tired, the police HAVE to give you a FREE ride to a safe destination; it’s part of that whole protect and serve mantra that you pay taxes for. They just don’t like to advertise it much, you can guess as to why.