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Illinois Parks & Recreation
May/June 1995 Volume 26, Number 3

Special Legal Feature
Teens, Alcohol and Zero Tolerance:
Another Enforcement Tool for Park District Police
by William McCamey, Ph.D. and Gayle Tronvig Carper, J.D.

As problems of social control in Illinois park districts have increased and become more complex, so have the responsibilities of park police officers. One area of growing complexity for park police is dealing with the use of alcohol by minors. For years, automobile crashes, many of which were alcohol-related, were the leading cause of death for young adults. Prevention campaigns have reduced the number of deaths, but detection of alcohol- impaired drivers in Illinois parks remains a priority. This priority was recently recognized by the Illinois Department of Transportation who awarded a grant to the Illinois Department of Conservation for additional law enforcement activities for detection of alcohol-impaired drivers in state parks.

A new legislative response to this problem, effective January 1, 1995, is the Zero Tolerance program developed by the Illinois Secretary of State. For the first time, drivers under 21 will have driving privileges suspended if a law enforcement officer develops probable cause of any alcohol consumption during an arrest of the driver for any violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code, or a similar violation of a local or park ordinance.

The "Use It and Lose It" law (found at 625 ILCS 5/ 11-501.8) does not alter the methods Illinois park police currently use for the detection and arrest of persons suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. To arrest a driver for DUI, the park officer must have reasonable grounds to believe that a particular vehicle is in violation of some part of the Illinois Vehicle Code prior to stopping the vehicle. If the officer then develops probable cause that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the driver may be arrested for driving under the influence. Driving privileges will be suspended only if a chemical test reveals that the driver has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 or more.

"This is a Bill which is tough, but it is also a Bill which is fair. It hits young people right where it will get their maximum attention, right in the driver's license."
Representative Churchill
House Debates
June 9, 1994

The Zero Tolerance law gives park police an additional weapon for young, impaired drivers. If, during the traffic violation stop, the officer has probable cause or first hand knowledge that the driver has consumed any alcohol and discovers that the driver is under age 21, the officer may issue a Zero Tolerance Warning to the driver. If a chemical test reveals that the under-21 driver has more than 0.009 but less than 0.10 blood alcohol concentration, the driver will lose driving privileges for three months. If the under-21 driver refuses to submit to a chemical test after the officer has established probable cause of alcohol consumption, the driver will lose driving privileges for six months. And, if an under-21 driver does not learn from mistakes and drinks and drives a second time, driving privileges will be suspended for a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years.

It is essential for the park district officer to realize that if field sobriety testing establishes probable cause that the under-21 driver has a blood alcohol concentration above 0.10, the Zero Tolerance law does not apply. The driver in this situation should be arrested for DUI and all DUI procedures must be followed. Additionally, Zero Tolerance does not apply when the park officer believes the under-21 driver is under the influence of drugs other than alcohol. Here, too, the driver can only be arrested for DUI, and the appropriate procedures must be followed. Zero Tolerance and DUI cannot be used together; the officer must choose one or the other, depending on the facts established during the traffic violation stop.

20 ¦ Illinois Parks & Recreation* May/June 1995


Special Legal Feature

There are other features of the Zero Tolerance legislation which differ from DUI procedures. The required Law Enforcement Sworn Report is sent only to the Secretary of State and never goes to traffic or criminal court. While the local traffic court will retain responsibility for dealing with the initial traffic violation, only the Secretary of State has jurisdiction over the Zero Tolerance suspension. The driver who contests suspension issued under Zero Tolerance must do so in an administrative hearing under the authority of the Secretary of State. A representative of this office will determine if the officer correctly followed all required procedures and whether the driver can escape suspension because of one of two limited exemptions. One exemption applies to the under-21 driver who has consumed alcohol in the performance of a religious ceremony; the other applies to a driver who has ingested the prescribed dosage of medicine containing alcohol.

The law allows the hearing to proceed on the basis of the officer's written reports, but the driver may subpoena the officer. Failure of the officer to appear will not result in automatic dismissal of the suspension because the hearing officer has discretion to continue the hearing to a time when the officer may be present.

In addition to the suspension of driving privileges, an under-21 driver will be required to attend a drug and alcohol awareness and educational program by the Secretary of State. A driver may be granted a restricted driving permit after a mandatory 30-day suspension if the driver proves an undue hardship for employment, education or medical purposes.

The role of the park police officer is in transition and is becoming more complex than ever before. Recent demands for improved quality of park services include increased professionalism by park police. Park officers must respond to the public mandate for the elimination of alcohol-impaired drivers from highways and park facilities. Only through a commitment to the prevention and detection of alcohol-impaired drivers can park police become more effective thus increasing the trust and interaction between park police and the community, a core task in successful park district management.

William McCamey, Ph. D., is an Associate Professor in the Law Enforcement and Justice Administration Department at Western Illinois University and a sworn officer for the Canton Park District.

Gayle Tronvig Carper, J.D., is a Professor in the Law Enforcement and Justice Administration Department at Western Illinois University and the attorney for the Macomb Park District.

Illinois Parks & Recreation ¦ May/June 1995* 21


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