Activist group pays cash to people reporting DUI

by Lewis Gainor on December 23, 2011

AAIM | Illinois Drunk Busters

Call the cops on a drunk driver, win $100. This is the Drunk Busters program in Illinois sponsored by the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM).

Drunk Busters started in Illinois in 1990 and has spread nationwide. AAIM promises to pay $100 to anyone who calls 911 to report an intoxicated driver and later the call results in an arrest for driving under the influence.

The program has paid out more than $418,000 over time, and according to AAIM, resulted in the arrest of 4,181 people. AAIM does not say whether any of these drivers were ever found guilty by a court of law, or whether their arrests were thrown out for no probable cause. AAIM also does not say whether any people cashing in on Drunk Busters have made multiple calls for multiple payments.

The suburbs of Chicago are covered by Drunk Busters. The program runs year round in DuPage, Kane, McHenry, Lake and Will County. The reason why Cook County is excluded is not clear.

During the morning broadcast on December 21, 2011, Chicago news radio station WBBM (AM 780) reminded its listeners that the program is in place for the holiday season. It is unclear whether AAIM paid the radio station to make the announcement.

Participants get a report from the police department verifying that an arrest was made and submit it for the reward.

Due process says that the defendant is entitled to know whether the 911 call that caused his arrest was made by a person getting paid for it. The defendant is also entitled to know whether that person has received multiple pay outs. It is important to determine whether a person wanted to remain anonymous for the 911 call but later gives his name to get the money.

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