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State's attorney's office plans holiday 'no-refusal' measures

Published: Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES – The Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office will partner with law enforcement officials to crack down on impaired drivers during two upcoming holidays.

State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said the no-refusal measures should spur people to think about assigning a designated driver or taking public transportation instead of driving under the influence during Halloween and Thanksgiving.

In a no-refusal operation, police work to speed up the DUI booking process by partnering with prosecutors to quickly obtain a search warrant to compel suspected drunken drivers to submit a blood or breath test. Anyone who fails to submit to chemical testing when a search warrant is obtained can face other sanctions.

The no-refusal initiatives will be at various locations from Oct. 26 through 28 and Nov. 21 and 22. Authorities have charged 87 individuals in the nine prior operations that have taken place.

“If a person consumed alcohol to the extent where they’re impaired, we want them to have an alternative to getting in the car and driving themselves,” McMahon said.

McMahon spoke Wednesday at his monthly meeting with the media. Among other topics covered, the office is preparing for Election Day by getting ready to deploy its Election Complaint Line.

The line is available for anyone who thinks someone is in violation of election law, whether it’s putting a sign too close to a polling place entrance or electioneering. The Election Complaint Line number is 630-208-5328.

McMahon said a team of assistant state’s attorneys will be on hand from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the day of the election to address any issues at the county’s 228 polling places. He said if a complaint comes in about a sign that’s too close to a door, for example, the team will go out with tape measures to make sure it’s far enough away.

“To protect the integrity of the election, it’s important to maintain that buffer,” he said.

Voters who need election information can call the Election Help Line at 630-232-5990.

McMahon also said the state’s attorney’s office has made headway in its anti-bullying initiative. The office presented “Stop Treating Other People,” a three-part program for students, parents and teachers, at Immanuel Lutheran School in East Dundee within the last month.

McMahon said he learned teachers wanted the program to reach younger students, so the program was expanded to include students as young as second grade.

He said students weighed in on ways they experience cyberbullying, such as through comments left on “Instagram” photos that are posted online.

“When you post something on the Internet, there’s a level of permanency there,” he said. “We’re trying to get them to understand the permanency of the Internet.”

More presentations are scheduled at two Aurora schools and South Elgin High School.

Starting Dec. 1, a few 16th Judicial Circuit branches will be closed certain days of the month. Chief Judge Robert Spence announced the changes last week. The Kane County Judicial Center will be closed Mondays.

The Aurora branch will be closed the second and fourth Fridays of each month, but will be open if the month has a fifth Friday. The Elgin branch will be closed on the first and third Fridays.

McMahon said the changes will not result in cutting employee hours. Instead, he can send his staff to higher-volume courts when needed on those days.

He said the changes are partly the result of using technology, such as video bond call reaching multiple locations, but he doesn’t think it will do much to relieve the office’s budget pressure.

“I don’t see that there’s a cost savings for us,” he said.

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