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government-force-you-to-testifyAt the beginning of January in Cook County, according to ABC Local News, the "sheriff’s office is conducting a sweep for people with DUI arrests who failed to appear in court or meet court-ordered obligations." Each year in Cook County, ABC Local reports, there are more than 600 criminal warrants in drunk driving. Due to budgetary constraints, time, and lack of available police resources, it’s difficult to continue to track DUI offenders after they’ve received their sentencing. "The mission [at the beginning of January] has been to whittle down that number and get repeat offenders off the street," reports ABC Local.

According to the 2013 Illinois DUI Fact Book, a publication from the office of the Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, about 15 percent of all drivers arrested for DUI are repeat offenders. This is a scary statistic, when considering that "323 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes," a full 35 percent of total crash fatalities in the state. "Males ages 21–24 had the highest DUI arrest rate," the Fact Book reports, "about 17 per 1,000 licensed drivers."

According to the State of Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County, the Social Service Department is the state-designated agency that supervises and provides "services to defendants who are placed on supervision or are found guilty of Driving Under the Influence." Research has shown, the Court states, that handing down a punishment isn’t enough to ensure that people don’t become repeat DUI offenders—that "court intervention with the DUI offender is essential for long term and effective containment of the problem of drinking and driving."

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Chicago Ambulance Driver Charged With DUIJohn Lara, 31, of LaGrange, was driving a private ambulance when he crashed into another vehicle on the North Side of Chicago in mid-December, according to CBS News Chicago. His lights and sirens were blaring when he hit a pickup truck at the corner of Clark and Montrose, and police immediately noticed the strong smell of alcohol on him, according to CBS. They also noticed, "Lara’s eyes were glassy and his speech was slurred."

Though his lights were on and the sirens blasting, "he was the only one in the ambulance, and was headed to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center to pick up a patient," according to CBS. When police tested him, Lara’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit, they told CBS. "He has been charged with aggravated driving under the influence, disobeying a stop signal, negligent driving, failing to carry a driver’s license, and other offenses," reports CBS. Both Lara and the man in the pickup truck he slammed into suffered minor injuries, according to DNA Info.

This isn’t the first time this year that an ambulance driver has been accused of drunk driving in the U.S. Earlier this year an ambulance driver in Lubbock, Texas was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, but later released because "a judge did not find enough probable cause to charge" him, according to KCBD News. In February, a Hackettstown, New Jersey ambulance driver was caught drunk on duty, according to WRNJ Radio.com. In this instance, the driver "drove past the emergency location and later entered the complex the wrong way." He was "charged with DUI in a school zone and careless driving, among other things," according to WRNJ.

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