Bill requiring breath interlocks for five years for second DUI passes Illinois legislature, sent for Gov’s signature

House Bill 3533 has passed both houses of the Illinois legislature.  It would require that any person whose driver’s license has been revoked for a DUI and seeks either reinstatement or a driving permit would be required to drive with a breath ignition interlock device (BAIID) for five years.

The bill states in part:

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 under Section 11-501 of this Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance.

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.

The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board comes out in favor of scrapping the DUI 30 day hard time rule

Last week, I posted a blog post about a pending bill in the Illinois legislature that would end the 30 day hard time rule which prevents first time DUI offenders from getting a driving permit until they have served 30 days of their statutory summary suspension.

Now, the Chicago Tribune editorial board has come out in favor of it too.

Here is their editorial, which is pay-walled on their site (why would they want to keep people from reading their opinions?):

Illinois law says that if you’re arrested for drunken driving, you’re supposed to serve the driver’s version of “hard time.” That is, you can’t drive, period. This “hard time” is supposed to be 30 days for first-time offenders and up to three years for repeat offenders.

But people steer around that law in several ways. Some simply drive without a license. Some work out plea deals with local prosecutors to pay hefty fines so they can avoid a suspension.

The Illinois State Bar Association has proposed a way to end the evasion — by ending the “hard time” period of suspensions.

The ISBA proposes that motorists charged with DUI be required to install ignition interlock devices that test for alcohol on a driver’s breath. They would drive — sober — with the interlock instead of losing driving privileges. The presumption is that more drivers would pay to install the devices and drive legally, rather than drive illegally or cut deals to avoid suspension.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving — long an advocate of ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders — is on board with the idea. So is the Chicago-area advocacy group called Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists. They’re not exactly known as pushovers on drunken driving.

State Senate President John Cullerton, who has passed valuable traffic safety laws in recent years, tells us that he supports the idea. “There’s an evolution in this area from the hard suspension which was sacrosanct” years ago, he says. Now, advocates recognize that “it’s safer to have people driving with the interlock than to have them illegally driving, as many of them do.”

This page has supported broader use of ignition interlock devices to help curb intoxicated driving. The National Transportation Safety Board recommended in 2012 that states mandate interlocks for all DUI offenders. The states with the strongest interlock laws, such as New Mexico, Arizona and West Virginia, have seen greater reductions in drunken driving deaths than the national average, MADD reports.

The threat of automatic suspension is a strong deterrent — when it’s enforced. That would be our preference, but it’s not easy to force local prosecutors and municipalities to give up their deal-making.

So we can see value in using interlocks after an arrest. That change would not affect how DUI offenders are punished after a conviction.

A first conviction for a misdemeanor DUI in Illinois carries a revocation of driving privileges for at least one year, two years if you’re under age 21. If your blood-alcohol level is more than twice the legal 0.08 limit, there’s a mandatory minimum $500 fine and 100 hours of community service. Depending on circumstances, including whether anyone was hurt in a crash of if there was a child in the car, penalties escalate, including possible jail time.

This interlock proposal could help curb a widespread and infuriating practice exposed by the Tribune last year. Local prosecutors in some suburbs cut plea deals to reduce DUI charges and collect wads of cash for municipal coffers. Those arrested often pay those fines to avoid a license suspension. The prospect of driving with an interlock instead of serving “hard time” might reduce the incentive for these municipal workarounds.

This all depends on how the concept is translated into proposed law. If a bill is presented to them, lawmakers should make sure it doesn’t create new loopholes in safety law. The message shouldn’t change: Drink. Drive. Pay.

Why the 30 day hard-time rule for first offense DUI offenders is outmoded and should be replaced

This weekend, there was a Chicago Tribune story about how “activists” are trying to get rid of the 30 day “hard-time” rule that keeps DUI arrestees from getting a driving permit until after their license has been suspended for 30 days.

What is the history and purpose of the hard time rule?

When our statutory summary suspension laws went into the books in the 1980s, the stated reason for the hard-time period was that it would created a “cooling off” period in which “drunks” would be taken off the roads.  Ultimately, a judge could issue him or her a Judicial Driving Permit to allow him or her to drive to work.  In reality, it was as much of a “tough on DUI” measure as anything else.

The 30 day hard-time rule was required under Federal Highway subsidy laws.  A state would have to have a 30 day hard-time period in order to get federal funds.

Why is it time to change?

Several years ago, Illinois changed its DUI suspension law, doubling the length of time of suspension, in return for a more “liberal” driving permit, which allows a person to drive 24/7 so long as he or she installs a BAIID in his or her car.

The BAIID removes the need for the 30 day period, since you can’t drive drunk if you have a BAIID.  The BAIID prevents a person from starting a car with a BAC of 0.025 or higher.

As mandatory BAIID laws became popular, the federal government removed the 30 day hard-time rule from its highway funding bills for states that required them.  But Illinois didn’t do anything when this happened.  Instead, they kept the 30 day hard time.

As a result, people who are accused of DUI have to worry about that hard-time period.  How will they get to work?  How will they get their kids to school?  What if their mom needs to go to the doctor?  They put pressure on their attorneys to get that suspension lifted so they don’t lose their job because our legislature has failed to act.

There can be no question that the 30 day hard time rule is outdated and needs to be removed.  Let people get Monitored Device Driving Permits from day one of their suspension.

Should all school buses have interlock devices installed?

There has been a push in New York to have all school buses fitted with alcohol ignition interlock devices to prevent any bus from being driven by an intoxicated driver.

Many parents are all for this legislation, especially after several incidents of drunk school bus drivers.

The drivers are not happy.  According to this story, “bus drivers’ unions call the mandates discriminatory. ‘Having my drivers have to go through a process that’s only reserved for people that have been convicted of a crime,’ Paul Mori of the New York School Bus Contractors Association.”

In Illinois, any bus driver who commits a DUI in a school bus transporting persons under the age of 18 is guilty of a Class 4 felony.  Also, if a person has a school bus driver’s permit and gets a DUI or reckless driving in a personal vehicle will have his or her bus permit disqualified for three years.

This is an example of competing values in conflict — on the one hand, extra precaution and safety for our children and on the other, a willingness to make the insulting presumption that school bus drivers have a high likelihood of coming to work drunk and that they do not care about the well-being of the children they transport, plus the public not giving much weight to the inconvenience of making bus drivers provide breath samples every time they start their vehicles and every time the device calls for a “rolling re-test.”

What do you think?

The future of DUIs?

ct-met-aj-1-dui-technology-0628-jpg-20130627From today’s Chicago Tribune:

Starting Monday, just in time for Fourth of July celebrations, Illinois will add a high-tech tweak to its fight against drunken driving: a camera installed near the dashboard of motorists charged with driving under the influence.

Of the estimated 11,000 motorists in the state required to have Breathalyzer ignition interlock devices on their vehicles, more than 3,000 of them are caught each year trying to drive after drinking too much, said Susan McKinney, administrator of the state’s program. The Breathalyzer locks the ignition and stops them.

“We get an inordinate amount of people telling us it wasn’t them (blowing into the Breathalyzer),” McKinney added. “They say it was anybody but me. Now, the technology will allow us not to have to make a judgment call.”

Adding the cameras is the latest step in a movement that may bring even more technology to bear in the fight against drunken driving, a movement quietly gaining momentum even as it draws fire from those who think it would ensnare responsible drinkers and devastate the restaurant industry.

Prototypes in development would measure blood alcohol concentration through a touch pad on the dashboard or steering wheel, or perhaps through sensors that gauge the driver’s breath.

Illinois is far from installing that sophisticated technology, although Secretary of State Jesse White is “very interested” in the devices, spokesman David Druker said.

Motorists arrested on DUI charges can drive only with restrictions that include the ignition device. As of Monday, those restrictions also will require a camera on a visor, roof column or other unobtrusive spot that takes a snapshot when the driver blows into the Breathalyzer to start the car.

The camera activates again when he or she takes a Breathalyzer at random prompts three times an hour while driving.

I posted about this before (Smile while you blow?), and here were my thoughts then:

As you may know, the Illinois Secretary of State requires that most people who have been suspended or revoked in Illinois for one or more DUIs have a BAIID installed on their vehicle as a condition of a driving permit.  The BAIID will only allow the individual to start a motor vehicle so long as there is not a BAC reading of 0.025 or higher.  This means that a person can have a BAC that is well below the legal limit yet not be able to start his or her vehicle.  Because of this, it is quite common for people to find that they are locked out and unable to start their vehicle despite not having consumed alcohol for over 12 hours, and feeling completely sober.  When this happens, not only is the person unable to start the car, but he or she will then face repercussions for their “high” BAC, including but not limited to extensions of the suspension, revocation of the driving permit,and  impoundment or forfeiture of the vehicle.


Faced with such consequences, it is commonplace for the person in this situation to attempt to claim that someone else was responsible for the BAIID result.  Sometimes this is true, sometimes it isn’t.  Currently, the person may contest the action of the Secretary of State and request a hearing, at which time he or she can present their evidence.  This requires the Secretary of State to weigh the credibility of the witnesses and evidence.  A photograph of the actual test will make this determination a lot easier, for both the Secretary of State and motorist involved.

More blog updates

The Secretary of State has amended its rules (92 Ill Adm Code 1001; 37 Ill Reg 720), effective 4/19/13 to require that all Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devices (“BAIID”) have a camera that is capable of taking a picture of the person who is using it.  This will allow for clear evidence as to whether “someone else” is responsible for a high breath test result or blew to get the vehicle started.  (Thanks to Springfield attorney Theodore Harvatin for passing this along).

Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton plead guilty to driving while impaired, a reduced charge from DUI.  He received one year probation, 24 hours of community service and fines.

ABC’s Sam Donaldson has plead not guilty and his DUI case is set for trial on June 10th.

Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones pooh-poohs the idea of “pot breathalyzers.”

And then in NFL DUI news:

Browns draft pick Armonty Bryant plead no contest to DUI just days after being arrested, and former Lions receiver Titus Young was arrested for DUI and then got arrested again for burglary 15 hours later when he illegally entered the impound to try to retrieve his car.