For about fifteen years, Illinois has had a law that prevents anyone with four DUI convictions from ever obtaining reinstatement of their drivers license (or even a driving permit), so long as the last DUI conviction occurred after January 1, 1999.
Over the years, two common phone inquiries come into my office. One of them occurs when someone calls from another state, to tell me that “I had three DUIs in the State of ______ and another one when I was visiting my cousin in Illinois” and now “my home state is willing to give me a license so long as Illinois clears me, but Illinois is saying they won’t because of that one DUI years ago!” The other common call that I often get is from someone who tells me that although he had four DUIs he quit drinking years ago, has been working the steps at AA and needs a license to support his family. He will tell me that he can’t understand why it is that there is nothing that he can do to get Illinois to at least consider him for a work permit.
Hopefully, things will change soon. Today, I saw this story from WUIS.org which states that Northbrook State Representative Elaine Nekritz has proposed a bill which would allow people who have been convicted of four DUIs to apply for a restricted driving permit — after five years have elapsed since their last treatment or incarceration, and the permit would have to be granted by a judge, who would have the right to limit where and when the person could drive.
This proposal makes all the sense in the world. It is much better to give people who have had multiple DUI convictions an incentive to undergo treatment and become abstinent than instead to discourage them and keep them from being able to support their families. The rationale for keeping these people revoked the makes even less sense considering that we have BAIIDs and SCRAMS to test people to see if they have alcohol or drugs in their system. And since Illinois has decided that it is better to give undocumented persons temporary visitor drivers licenses because we think it is better to have tested and insured drivers than unlicensed and uninsured drivers, doesn’t it make sense to treat revoked drivers the same way, assuming that they can demonstrate a lengthy period of sobriety and that they have learned and changed through an alcohol or drug treatment plan?