As the Chicago Tribune noted over the weekend, as of January 1, 2016, there will no longer be a 30 day “hard time” period before people who are suspended for first time Illinois DUIs can get a driving permit.
The new law ends an anachronism that had kept a 1980’s era law on the books despite recent changes in Illinois drunk driving laws that made the hard time period unnecessary and counter-productive.
In Illinois, first time DUI offenders receive a license suspension if they either fail or refuse a breath, blood or urine test. The suspension is six months for failing the test and twelve months for refusing.
This suspension law has been around in one form or another since the 1980s. The idea was to get drunk drivers off the road without having to wait for their DUI case to be resolved.
Since 2009, these first offenders have been eligible for a Monitored Device Driving Permit (“MDDP”) which allows the person to drive their car 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so long as their vehicle is equipped with a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (“BAIID”).
However, as a holdover to the old law, there was still a 30 day “hard time” rule, which was designed to keep drunk drivers off the road. Since now there is a BAIID requirement, there is enough of a safeguard that the person won’t drive drunk, so there was no longer any need for the wait. In light of that, Congress removed the 30 day hard time provision that was a condition of Federal Highway appropriations back in 2012, with the blessing of MADD.
It took Illinois another three years to act on this and remove the 30 day wait time.
You may ask, “why should we do anything that helps drunk drivers?”
And here are the reasons:
- They can’t drive drunk with a BAIID installed on their car.
- If they do somehow drive drunk (or stoned), they will be charged with felony and face one to three years in prison, if not more depending on his or her background.
- This will discourage people from driving while suspended during that 30 day time period, as well as skipping out on the BAIID restricted permit altogether since it wasn’t helping them during the hard time period.
- It will also give prosecutors more reason not to agree to rescissions of the license suspension for people who have a hardship with the 30 day hard time provision (although it is still a useful tool for prosecutors as a carrot to dangle to encourage guilty pleas).