Cars seized from repeat DUI offenders transformed into police ve - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Cars seized from repeat DUI offenders transformed into police vehicles

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

If drivers in Will County see a sheriff's police officer behind the wheel of a different looking vehicle, their initial reaction might be to question how their tax dollars are being spent. Not to worry. It's the result of a state law the sheriff's department is now using more aggressively to cut down on drunk driving.

State law allows police departments to confiscate vehicles from people who are busted for DUI if they were driving on a suspended or revoked license from a previous drunk driving conviction. Some of those confiscated cars are then being repurposed into police vehicles – complete with special detailing on the back, reading: "This vehicle was seized from a drunk driver."

"That's so the public knows what we're doing with the vehicles," Sgt. Steve Byland explains. "It's easily identifiable. Any vehicle that we put in patrol will have that marking on the back of them now."

Craig Bialobok's drunk driving arrest in February cost him his truck because he never got his license reinstated after a 1996 DUI conviction.

"I don't think that's right," Bialobok says of the law. "I don't understand how they can do that and get away with that."

It's his pickup that's now being retrofitted for the Sheriff's Department. Bialobok said he quit drinking after that arrest.

"I wouldn't do it again," he adds. "I'm paying enough already, I mean I have jail time because of this coming."

But, he's not the only who had to learn the hard way. The Will County Sheriff's Department has three DUI seized vehicles in it's fleet, another one taken from a burglar, and another half dozen the result of drug arrest forfeitures.

Sometimes the process can take two years, but the Sheriff's Department hopes these words are words to the wise.

"So, the taxpayers know that we are taking drunk drivers off the road and this is the consequences for driving drunk in the County," Byland says.

Bialobok hopes others learn from his mistake.

"I didn't learn my lesson the first time, but this is it for me," Bialobok promises.

The sheriff's department generally only keeps vehicles that the owner has paid off. When they still have liens it's usually not cost effective to keep the vehicles.

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