Circuit Clerk’s office processes most DUIs in 10 years

CARLYLE – Motorists who decided to drink alcohol and drive last year in Clinton County often ended up with flashing lights in their rear-view mirror.

Clinton County Circuit Clerk Rod Kloeckner reports his office processed 122 driving under the influence tickets in 2016, a 10-year high. The previous high came in 2006, when 126 DUIs were issued by local, county and state law-enforcement officers.

Last year’s total was 22 more than were written in 2014, when the circuit clerk’s office processed 100. The busiest year for DUIs came in 2004, when 137 were issued.

“It’s obvious law enforcement in all jurisdictions in the county have stepped up their efforts to deter drunk drivers,” Kloeckner said. “The total averages out to a little over 10 per month. Many people do it and think nothing of it, but the bottom line is driving drunk is a bad idea. The consequences are huge personally, professionally and financially.”

According to statistics gleaned from the circuit clerk’s office, the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department issued the most DUIs with 54. The Carlyle Police Department was next with 16, while the Illinois State Police and Breese each had 15.

Kloeckner said the months of March and April saw the most DUIs written (16 and 17, respectively), while December had the fewest (one). Though costs vary depending upon the circumstances of the case, Kloeckner said the average cost of a DUI in Clinton County is around $1,600, but that only includes the fine and court fees.

Overall, the number of traffic tickets written in Clinton County in 2016 dropped from the previous year. Kloeckner said his office processed 2,379 traffic citations, which were 409 fewer then were processed in 2015, when 2,788 were issued.

Kloeckner said traffic tickets derive from the 10 local municipalities that have police departments in Clinton County – Carlyle, Breese, Trenton, Aviston, Germantown, New Baden, Albers, Beckemeyer, Centralia and Wamac – along with the sheriff’s department and the ISP.

Drivers with a need for speed were once again were the most common culprits. Of the 2,379 traffic tickets written, 903 were issued for speeders.

Kloeckner said the most cited charge was driving 15-20 mph above the speed limit. Officers wrote 576 tickets for that offense, 131 fewer than in 2015. The next four most-cited traffic charges were operating an uninsured motor vehicle (341), driving 21-25 mph above the speed limit (195), driving on a suspended license (136) and failure to reduce speed (111).

What was notable about the speeding tickets was the agency that wrote the most tickets. Illinois State Police issued 242 speeding citations, followed by Trenton (232), Clinton County Sheriff’s Department (208), Aviston (86), New Baden (58), Breese (23), Carlyle (16), Germantown (15), Albers (12), Centralia (8), Beckemeyer (2) and Wamac (1).

“The ISP certainly has a presence in Clinton County,” Kloeckner said.

Since 2000, the most traffic tickets written in a single year was 2002, when 5,093 were issued.

Other traffic notes of interest:

  • Kloeckner said after the top five, the next two most-cited traffic charges were driving without a license (100) and illegal use of an electronic communication device (89).
  • More people are buckling up. There were 76 seat belt tickets issued for either a driver or a passenger in 2016, down 15 from last year when 91 were issued.
  • Conservation police issued four operating a watercraft under the influence tickets. The most common citation written by conservation officers was fishing without a license (13) and illegally taking/possessing/selling a wild bird or animal.

All told, Kloeckner said his office processed 4,336 filings in all the case categories, 311 fewer than in 2015.  He said 11 of the 23 criminal and civil case categories had an increase in the number of cases filed. The biggest increase was in criminal misdemeanors. There were 370 CMs filed, 56 more than last year.

There were 201 felony (CF) cases filed, up 16 from last year. Other criminal case categories included conservation (CV) with 80 and ordinance violations (OV) with 34.

The new civil law violation case category that went into effect on September 1 had 12 filings. The CL category was created as a result of new legislation that makes possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100-$200. With its enactment, adults no longer face time in jail, and the civil offense will be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record.

Cases filed on the civil side included six adoptions (AD), 52 chancery (CH), 102 dissolutions (D), 58 family (F), two juvenile (J), nine juvenile neglect and abuse (JA), 57 juvenile delinquent (JD), 36 law (L), 90 law magistrate (LM), 174 miscellaneous remedy (MR), 128 orders of protection (OP), 75 probate (P), 304 small claim (SC) and 45 tax cases (TX).