Proposed Illinois bill would require 2d offense drunk drivers to have a BAIID for five years

There is a pending bill in the Illinois House (HB 3533) which would require persons who have been granted a driving permit or license reinstatement after having been convicted of a second offense DUI to drive for five years with a BAIID, instead of one year as is currently required.

Here is a link to the bill’s status:

Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the Illinois Vehicle Code. Provides that the Secretary of State shall require the use of ignition interlock devices for a period not less than 5 years on all vehicles owned by a person who has been convicted of a second or subsequent offense of driving under the influence of alcohol, other drugs, intoxicating compounds, or any combination. Provides that a person convicted of a second or subsequent violation of driving under the influence of alcohol, other drugs, intoxicating compounds, or any combination, or where the use of alcohol or other drugs is recited as an element of an offense, may not make application for a driver’s license until he or she has first been issued a restricted driving permit by the Secretary, and the expiration of a continuous period of not less than 5 years following the issuance of the restricted driving permit without suspension, cancellation, or revocation of the permit, or violation of a regulation requiring use of an ignition interlock device.

Is this a good change to the law?  I think it is extreme.  In order to obtain a restricted driving permit or reinstatement after a second DUI, the petitioner must prove that he or she has completed alcohol treatment and is not a danger to the public.  The Secretary of State scrutinizes these cases and do not reinstate as a matter of course.

Five years is a long to time to have to have a BAIID in your vehicle.  They are expensive, and it is embarrassing to have to use one.  Plus, the BAIID is not easily removed (for good reason), so every one in the family who uses that vehicle has to go through the same embarrassment and humiliation as the repeat drunk driver.

For the story behind the bill, here is an article from by Kevin Craver of the Northwest Herald:

Joel Mains got a call last November from the Palatine Police Department that would make any father’s blood boil.

The drunk driver who killed his stepdaughter a decade earlier in a head-on crash was picked up Nov. 15 – yet again – for driving under the influence.

Seventeen-year-old Caitlin Weese was driving back to her Wonder Lake home on May 22, 2003, when James Stitt, then 23, swerved into the oncoming lane on Route 72 near Gilberts and struck her head-on. Weese died two days later, just weeks before her 18th birthday and her graduation from Larkin High School in Elgin. She was to be the maid of honor in her sister’s wedding.

Stitt was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, was released in 2009 and got his driver’s license back in January 2013, according to records. He had been convicted of DUI twice before he killed Weese, and was driving with a suspended license that night.

Drunk-driving offenders who are eligible to regain driving privileges under Illinois law must have their cars equipped with an ignition interlock device, which will not start a car if the driver blows more than .025. But that device comes off with the end of a driver’s suspension, and even repeat offenders under state law can get it removed after 12 consecutive months of driving without the device ever detecting alcohol.

A law now sailing through the General Assembly will increase the time and the steps that repeat DUI offenders must take to get their driver’s licenses back. And it started when Mains and his family reached out to their state lawmakers – including the one Mains had unsuccessfully tried to unseat in the election weeks prior.

With the initial aggravation, the kids and I talked about it, and we were all pretty upset and wanted to do something,” Mains said.

State Rep. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, wanted to do something as well when she received the email from Mains, who was her Democratic opponent for the 64th House District she has represented since 2012. They worked together to craft House Bill 3533, which is before the Illinois House for a vote.

“Something is severely wrong with the law when somebody who has multiple DUI convictions, and murders someone, is driving [without monitoring] when they have a problem with alcohol,” Wheeler said.

House Bill 3533 prevents a repeat DUI offender from applying to the secretary of state’s office for driver’s license reinstatement until the person has gone for five years on a restricted driving permit – which limits car usage to work, grocery shopping, school and emergencies – without incident. It also increases to five years the amount of time that a repeat DUI offender has to drive with an ignition interlock. Such devices are installed at the driver’s expense, come with monthly monitoring and rental fees, and are regularly checked by state authorities for compliance.

The bill passed the House Transportation: Vehicles and Safety Committee on a 9-0 vote March 18. Mains, a firefighter paramedic with Downers Grove, had a large contingent of his fellow firefighters sitting in the audience in a show of solidarity when he testified on its behalf. Besides being touching, Wheeler said, it made an impression – three of the committee’s members have signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation.

When it passes the House, the bill will go to the Senate, where Mains’ state Senator, Republican Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, will carry it.

“This is a nonpartisan issue. Families of all makeups get affected by the thousands, and people of all types cause this,” Mains said. “We didn’t want this to happen to any other family.”

Weese was the first DUI victim in Illinois honored with a memorial sign from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Mains and his wife Diane became actively involved in the group Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, and Joel Mains now sits on its board. Diane, Weese’s biological mother, died in 2006.

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