ILLINOIS DRIVER FRIENDLY DUI LAW?

In 1991 I wrote my first book meant to help drivers understand DUI law. I stated that the pendulum had started to swing in the direction of driver friendly laws, based on the assumption that the laws had become so strict that they were due to ease to some degree. My conclusion was wrong. Since then, the blood alcohol level at which one is presumed under the influence has been reduced in nearly every state, and new laws with mandatory minimum sentencing rules, make DUI, and driving after DUI, subject to more punishment than ever.

Until recently, I have never seen a law that makes life easier for those subject to DUI arrest or sentencing. At the present time, House Bill 4206, which is meant to restore eligibility to drivers with multiple DUI’s to have their driver’s licenses reinstated, is being considered by the General Assembly. Last year a similar bill was defeated. This one was introduced in January 2014. It is still in committee, and stands a good chance of being submitted to legislators.

I know what you’re thinking – “anyone with repeated DUI’s should be kept off the roadways!” But both Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, support this law. At the present time, if you have four DUI convictions, you will never be able to get a driver’s license in Illinois. Even if the four convictions were thirty years ago, and you have been sober since the last one – no driver’s license ever! The concept of paying your debt to society is meaningless in the realm of repeat DUI offenders, and is similar only to the punishment that sex offenders receive – a scarlet letter that stays with them forever.

The new law would allow repeat offenders to apply for a restricted permit to drive, five years after their release from jail on their last offense, if they have been sober for three years, and have completed the necessary alcohol treatment. Those drivers whose DUIs resulted in a death are not eligible for reinstatement. If a permit is granted, the driver would only be allowed to drive his or her personal vehicle if equipped with a machine that would not let the car start if there is alcohol on the driver’s breath, and the device would have a video camera to confirm that it is the permit holder who blows into it.

At the present time there are about 5,000 people in Illinois who could benefit by this bill. It is a practical recognition that many of these people continue driving illegally for good reasons like: to work to support their families, to buy food, to look for work, or to get medical treatment; and for bad reasons like to buy more alcohol. The bill gives those people who have paid their debt to society, and who can prove to the Secretary of State, that they have conquered their alcohol problem, an incentive to remain sober so they can drive legally.

2 Comments »

  1. steve said,

    August 23, 2014 @ 6:10 PM

    I think this bill is long over due, especially for those who were incarcerated and paid their debt to society.

  2. Larry said,

    October 9, 2014 @ 9:47 AM

    I heard more recently that the bill has little chance – this time – but it will be back.

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