Blagojevich expands programs to combat underage drinking;
Don't Be Sorry educational campaign and TrAIL come
to Kane and McHenry counties
program assists law enforcement in identifying
people who sell alcohol to minors
October 19, 2006
CONTACT: Ted Penesis (email@example.com)
CHICAGOGovernor Rod R. Blagojevich
today expanded the states efforts to crack down on underage
drinking by introducing a pilot program to Kane and McHenry
counties. The new program targets the sources of alcohol in
underage drinking-related fatalities and injuries. TrAIL
(Tracking Alcohol in IL) was designed by Gov. Blagojevichs
Alcohol Abuse Task Force (AATF) to pinpoint those selling
alcohol to minors and punish them accordingly. It was originally
launched in August 2006 as a pilot program in central and
southern Illinois. To complement the increased law enforcement,
the Governor also expanded the states Dont
Be Sorry educational campaign which teaches kids the
consequences of underage drinking.
As parents, we love our children and try to teach them
to make good decisions. But we cant be with our kids
all of the time to make sure they do the right thing. Thats
why the TrAIL program is so important. It helps us track down
and go after people who sell or give alcohol to minors. If
were serious about curbing underage drinking, we need
to address the problem from every aspect, and that includes
both teaching kids to do the right thing and taking on those
who are giving alcohol to minors, said Governor Blagojevich.
Under the TrAIL program, a special investigation is conducted
when underage alcohol consumption is suspected in an incidentsuch
as a car crash, underage drinking party, alcohol poisoning/overdose,
sexual assault or other eventthat results in injury
or death. If the above criteria are met, first responding
officers will call a 24-hour hotline number to deploy a TrAIL
investigator, who will assist in the collection of evidence
and determine where the alcohol was purchased or served.
When our teenagers leave the house, we as parents worry
about all the dangerous influences they may face on a day
to day basis. First Lady Patricia Blagojevich said.
This program will help to reduce these influences by
investigating stores that sell alcohol to minors. Through
programs like TrAIL and Dont Be Sorry, the Governor
and I are dedicated to making this state safer for all of
Since the tragic loss of her son, Glenview parent Debra Tyrpak
has become a committed advocate against underage drinking.
I feel the issue of teens and drinking has long been
overlooked. Establishments possessing an Illinois liquor license
must realize it is a privilege to be granted a license, and
it is their duty to uphold the laws pertaining to that license.
The death of two high school students last week in Deerfield
due to underage drinking hit her especially hard. I
know their heartbreak. Last year, my 16-year-old son, Joey,
lost his life when he drowned in a retention pond after attending
a party where underaged drinking was taking place. It is my
hope that TrAIL will prevent tragedies like ours from happening
in the future.
Conducting a TrAIL investigation immediately after an incident
greatly increases the odds of successfully tracking the alcohol
purchase, according to law enforcement professionals. While
the initial responding officer concentrates on the immediate
aftermath of the incident (i.e., monitoring traffic flow,
coordinating emergency vehicles around the scene, interviewing
those involved in the incident, etc.), a TrAIL investigator
will focus specifically on determining where the alcohol was
TrAIL is funded through a $100,000 traffic safety grant from
the Illinois Department of Transportation. The Governors
AATF, created to coordinate cross-agency cooperation in combating
alcohol abuse in Illinois, provided the Liquor Commission
with programmatic recommendations and funding sources. The
Liquor Commission has partnered with the Illinois State Police,
Secretary of State Police, and Department of Natural Resources
Conservation Police to collaborate each agencys efforts
for the success of the TrAIL program.
To bring the consequences of underage drinking to life, the
Don't Be Sorry educational campaign will kick off in
Kane County this Friday at South Elgin High School where students
can experience a drunk driving simulator. On Tuesday, October
24th, Don't Be Sorry will launch in McHenry County
at Huntley High School, wherein addition to disseminating
of educational materials and the simulatora speaker
will relay to students the dangers of underage drinking. Earlier
this month, West Aurora High School students also experienced
the Don't Be Sorry campaign as part of their driver's
educational program (For more information, please click
view the campaign's website www.DontBeSorry.org).
If we are to change behaviors, education and enforcement
go hand-in-hand. With this in mind, materials have been created
not only for the teens but for parents and liquor retailers
as well, said Ted Penesis, Industry Education Manager
for the Liquor Commission.
The TrAIL program has been successful in determining the
source of illegal alcohol distribution in its initial pilot
in Sangamon and Jackson counties. For example, in Carbondale,
an 18-year-old suffered alcohol poisoning and was taken to
the emergency room. A TrAIL investigator was deployed and
able to identify the adult who provided the teen with alcohol.
The adult was arrested and criminal charges are pending, giving
peace of mind to the teens parents.
By expanding into Kane and McHenry counties, the AATF expects
to collect more extensive data on injuries and deaths caused
by underage drinking. For example, whether underage drinking
was actually responsible for an incident is often difficult
to determine. Additionally, the type of liquor involved in
an incident will be tracked, and a central repository will
be created to catalog those establishments who sell to minors.
Using these statistics, the Task Force can identify further
ways to reduce underage drinking in Illinois.
The TrAIL concept is based on Californias successful
TRACE (Target Responsibility for Alcohol Connected Emergencies)
Program, which was inaugurated in 2004. In June 2006, nearly
fifty Illinois investigators from throughout the state received
specialized training. The training sessions, conducted by
personnel from Californias Department of Alcoholic Beverage
Control, focused on strategies and procedures used in tracking
Additional training sessions for both state and local law
enforcement will be held next year. By providing this training
to local police, TrAIL can be expanded statewide in the near
future. In the meantime, trained state investigators will
respond to TrAIL hotline calls in an ever-expanding list of
countiesincluding two new rural counties in northern
Illinois next month.
The Governor has taken the following steps to improve alcohol
and teen driving safety in Illinois:
- Gov. Blagojevich signed several laws focused on protecting
teenage drivers in 2005. One new law bans drivers under
the age of 18 from using cell phones while behind the wheel.
A second law requires drivers under 18 to make sure that
their teen passengers are properly buckled up in the front
and back seats.
- Gov. Blagojevich signed a new law initiated by Secretary
of State Jesse White in 2006 that increases the amount of
time teenage drivers must spend in behind the wheel instruction
before they can receive their drivers license.
- In 2004, Gov. Blagojevich launched the Governors
Alcohol Abuse Task Force aimed at educating citizens about
the prevention and treatment resources available throughout
the state to help combat alcohol abuse.
Industry Education Links:
Liquor Control Act
Browse and/or download
Illinois Liquor Control Commission
Rules and Regulations
Browse and/or download