Last week, the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists released their annual survey of DUI arrests in Illinois. The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists conducts annual surveys of DUI arrests by the 700 police agencies in Illinois. The survey is funded by the Illinois Department of transportation. The survey gives us an understanding of where most DUI arrests happen and allows us to compare previous years to see any emerging patterns and trends involving DUI cases and DUI arrests.
As usual, the Chicago Police Department reported the largest number of DUI arrests in Illinois. The Chicago Police Department made 1,622 DUI arrests in 2021. This figure represents an almost 28% decrease from 2020, when the Chicago Police made 2,240 DUI arrests. Decatur came in second with 353 DUI arrests in Illinois in 2021. Aurora, the second largest city in Illinois, came in third with 325 DUI arrests in 2021. Aurora’s numbers are significant because the number of DUI arrests increased almost 63% over 2020. In 2020, Aurora only had 200 DUI arrests. Compared to 325 DUI arrests in 2021, one can see how significant the increase in DUI arrests was in Aurora in 2021.
The Illinois State Police also saw a big increase in the number of DUI arrests in 2021 compared to 2020. The Illinois State Police made 6,596 DUI arrests in 2021. In 2020, the Illinois State Police made 5,947 DUI arrests. The Illinois State Police saw an increase of almost 11% in 2021 over 2020 in DUI arrests.
The communities in DuPage County that saw the largest number of DUI arrests were Lombard, Carol Stream, Elmhurst and Naperville. Lombard was number three in Illinois after Aurora, with 300 DUI arrests. Elgin had 276 DUI arrests, Bloomington had 252 DUI arrests, Carol Stream had 250 arrests, Elmhurst had 235, and Naperville had 227. In previous years, Carol Stream and Naperville would be at the top of the list annually. In recent years, the number of DUI arrests in Naperville and Carol Stream seem to have been dropping.
Somewhat surprisingly, the top Sheriffs Department in Illinois for DUI arrests was Winnebago County. Winnebago County led the Sheriffs Departments in Illinois with 420 DUI arrests. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office was in second place with 338 DUI arrest. The McHenry County Sheriffs Office came in third place with 232 DUI arrests, followed by Macon County with 218 and McLean County with 179.
Authorities like to take credit when the number of DUI arrests drop for the decreasing number by claiming that their efforts to combat drunk driving lead to the drop in numbers. When the DUI arrest numbers go up, they take credit by claiming that the police and prosecutors are working harder and arresting more motorists. While those factors may affect the numbers, I think that many of the DUI arrest numbers have nothing to do with the police or elected public officials. If you look closely at the numbers, you see that a highly populated City like Chicago, has a 28% drop in DUI arrests, while a much smaller City like Aurora sees a 63% increase in DUI[ arrests. The Illinois State Police saw an increase of 11% in DUI arrests over 2020. Winnebago County, with a population of 284,000 people leads all Sheriff’s Departments in Illinois, While Cook County, with a population of roughly 5.17 million doesn’t even make the top 5 Sheriff’s Departments in Illinois.
These numbers tell me that the pandemic has had a major impact on DUI cases. With remote working, fewer people are going to work in urban areas like Chicago. More people are working out of their homes. That could explain why the Illinois State Police saw an increase in DUI arrests while the Chicago Police saw a decrease in the number of DUI arrests. For the longest time, many restaurants, Banquet Halls and bars, were closed due to the pandemic. Sporting events were either canceled or happened without audiences. In the future, it will be interesting to see how these DUI arrest numbers look like. While I am seeing DUI arrests slowly returning to what I can call “normal”, I wonder how the changing working environment will play out in the years to come. With hybrid working, remote working, remote classes, remote telemedicine, fewer people should be driving on the roads. The future surveys should reveal some interesting details.
James Dimeas is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, DUI lawyer, with over 28-years of experience handling DUI cases throughout Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County. Recently, James Dimeas was named a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer in the State of Illinois for the years 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021” by the American Society of Legal Advocates. James Dimeas was named a “Best DUI Attorney”, a “Best DUI Lawyer in Schaumburg”, and a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago” by Expertise. James Dimeas was named a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer” by the National Trial Lawyers. The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys gave James Dimeas the “Top 10 Attorney Award for the State of Illinois”. James Dimeas is rated ‘Superb’ by AVVO, 10 out of 10, the highest rating possible for any DUI lawyer in the United States. The American Society of Criminal Law Attorneys named James Dimeas a ’10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction.” Attorney and Practice Magazine gave James Dimeas the “Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney Award for Illinois.”