Since 1986, Illinois has had an “implied consent” or “statutory summary suspension” for motorists who are arrested for DUI and either refuse or fail breath, blood or urine tests. As part of this law, Illinois has allowed “first offenders” to receive a driving permit during their suspension. However, these permits could not begin until 31rst day after the suspension began. This 30 day period is called “hard time” and it was mandated by the Federal government through a highway funds bill.
The purpose of the 30 day “hard time” was to get intoxicated motorists off the road for at least some period of time, before allowing them to get back on the roadways with a limited use permit. For years, Illinois only allowed Judicial Driving Permits to be issued, after a judge agreed after a hearing in which the judge reviewed the motorist’s alcohol and drug use evaluation, heard about the (alleged) facts of the case and the defendant’s driving history, and then they could only be issued for limited purposes such as for work or school.
A sea change occurred a few years ago, when Illinois scrapped the “Judicial Driving Permit” and replaced it with a “Monitored Device Driving Permit” (“MDDP”). As it currently works, a first offender is automatically enrolled to get a MDDP and must choose to opt out. The MDDP allows driving, after the 30 day hard time period, for any purpose, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so long as the person has a breath ignition interlock device (“BAIID”) installed on his vehicle (however, there is a limited “work vehicle exception to allow someone to drive a work vehicle without a BAIID). At the time, Illinois was one of the first states to make this switch, requiring interlocks for first offenders.
Since this law was introduced, it puzzled me as to why the 30 day hard time remained in place. Once the BAIID is installed, a person can only drive legally if he or she has a BAC of under 0.025. The BAIID ensures that if the person is going to drive, he or she will do so sober. So why not let that person drive immediately? Giving that person a permit right away would encourage people to get the MDDP with the breath interlock, instead of making them wait 30 days, a timeframe where a person might feel the need to drive illegally, just to keep their job or get their children to school.
The problem in scrapping the hard time requirement was that the State would lose Federal money under the transportation bill unless the 30 day rule remained on the books.
So this has been a point of frustration for me (one of many, when it comes to our DUI laws).
But now it looks like things may change.
Since Illinois adopted the new law requiring BAIIDs for first offenders, other states have jumped on the bandwagon, and ignition interlocks for first time offenders are increasingly becoming standard. A new Federal transportation bill, pushed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) provides money to states that adopt breath interlocks for states, and, as part of the bill, removes the requirement that states have mandatory 30 day hard time.
According to my contacts at the Secretary of State and the Illinois Bar Association, our legislature is looking into scrapping the 30 day hard time rule. Local state’s attorneys and police departments have been contacted for feedback, and apparently everyone is on board with removing this outdated rule. So all that is needed is our representatives to pass the legislation. Hopefully, they will see the benefits to this law and feel that with the approval of MADD, prosecutors and police departments, they have the political cover to support this common-sense change.