Illinois Sign and Drive Law

The media has been impressed with the new Illinois law known as “Sign and Drive.” The law is touted as beneficial because it allows you to just sign your name instead of surrendering your driver’s license after a traffic citation in this state.

Obviously, the vast majority of tickets written by Illinois law enforcement officers are speeding tickets. The average speeding ticket requires you to post cash bond at the time you are ticketed, or to give up your license to the law officer.

Years ago I learned that after the officer takes your license, it is sent to the local municipality, or usually to the local courthouse. The ticket and the license are stapled together, and a file is created to keep the documents accessible. The next time you are stopped for a moving violation, the officer will see those tiny holes in your license and know that you have been ticketed since your license was renewed. At that point, if he hasn’t already, the officer will run a check to see if you have any warrants, and can determine if you have committed traffic violations in the past. Many people believe that those holes in the license have resulted in people who maybe otherwise would not have been ticketed, to be the loser in situations where the officer might use his discretion and let you leave without a ticket.

Few people realize that even if you surrender your license after a traffic violation, you can reacquire the license by visiting the circuit clerk who holds the license, if you post a cash bond.

So back to the original question: just what does this new law mean? If you commit a petty offense while driving (tail light out, speeding just a little) the officer will let you keep your license – which as the statute intends, will let you use it for identification purposes. In the past we had to use a carbon copy of the ticket as an identification, and few of those copies were legible.

If you miss your court date, your license will be suspended. If you go to trial and are found not guilty, if your charges are dismissed, or if you pay your fine timely, you keep your license (and it will have no holes from being stapled).

If you commit a serious traffic offense (DWLS, speeding too far over the limit, DUI, etc) you will still be required to surrender your license to the police officer. This new law only applies to petty offenses, which means those for which you cannot go to jail.

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