So-called “Fifth Chance” for repeat DUI offenders getting pushback from the get tough crowd

Since the Governor signed into law the Illinois Legislature’s bill which would allow restricted driving permits for people who have had four DUI convictions, there has been some after-the-fact blowback.  First, the Chicago Sun-Times, whose editorial board endorsed the legislation, devoted a front cover story designed to scare readers about the “5,085” repeat DUI offenders who would be back on the road.

Then today, I saw this blog post from a personal injury law firm.

Here was my response on their facebook page:

The law does not allow people to drive drunk. It would allow these individuals to drive only on a restricted driving permit while using a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device which would prevent them from driving drunk. The permit would restrict the days and hours that they can drive and the reasons for which they could drive, typically for work and to attend support group meetings. These permits would only be allowed if the person has been through treatment, and has been abstinent for at least three years and been attending support group meetings. Over the years, I have heard from many people who committed multiple DUIs when they were much younger, and now, decades later, after they have reformed themselves and were trying to earn a living to support themselves and their family, were denied even an opportunity to have a hearing to show that they had made significant changes to their lives. All this law does is give them that chance. To say otherwise is give up on them, and encourage them to drive illegally, and take away any incentive for them to undergo treatment, maintain sobriety and attend a support group.

A recap of the new laws effecting DUI license revocations

Click here to get a post on my official website to read a full recap of the two new pieces of major legislation signed into law by Governor Rauner effecting DUI revocations.

87 year old crashes through driving facility at end of road test

From driver crashes into license facility (story by Michelle Groenke):

An 87-year-old man who was taking his driving exam in order to renew his license crashed his vehicle Wednesday into a wall at the front of the Secretary of State’s driver’s license facility in Deerfield.

No one was injured, Deerfield police said.

“It happened around lunch time,” according to Secretary of State spokesman Dave Druker. “There is some damage to the building, but they’ll have it repaired immediately.”

Druker said it appears the man, who was in the car with an examiner, stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake, striking a post and several signs. It appears the examiner helped steer the vehicle away from the building, according to Druker.

New law will let you keep your drivers license card after a minor violation

Today, Governor Quinn signed a new law which allows motorists to sign traffic citations in lieu of having to post their driver’s license as a bond.  This is a great convenience for motorists, who would otherwise be left without their most common form of identification, as well as for police departments and court clerks, who will not have to handle and safeguard these valuable cards.

The new law is Public Act 98-0780, which states as follows:

(625 ILCS 5/6-308 new)
Sec. 6-308. Procedures for traffic violations.
(a) Any person cited for violating this Code or a similar
provision of a local ordinance for which a violation is a petty offense as defined by Section 5-1-17 of the Unified Code of Corrections, excluding business offenses as defined by Section 5-1-2 of the Unified Code of Corrections or a violation of Section 15-111 of this Code, shall not be required to post bond. When required by Illinois Supreme Court Rule, the person shall sign the citation. All other provisions of this Code or similar provisions of local ordinances shall be governed by the bail provisions of the Illinois Supreme Court Rules when it is not practical or feasible to take the person before a judge to have bail set or to avoid undue delay because of the hour or circumstances.
(b) Whenever a person fails to appear in court, the court
may continue the case for a minimum of 30 days and the clerk of the court shall send notice of the continued court date to the person’s last known address. If the person does not appear in court on or before the continued court date or satisfy the court that the person’s appearance in and surrender to the court is impossible for no fault of the person, the court shall enter an order of failure to appear. The clerk of the court shall notify the Secretary of State of the court’s order. The Secretary, when notified by the clerk of the court that an order of failure to appear has been entered, shall immediately suspend the person’s driver’s license, which shall be designated by the Secretary as a Failure to Appear suspension.
The Secretary shall not remove the suspension, nor issue any permit or privileges to the person whose license has been suspended, until notified by the ordering court that the person has appeared and resolved the violation. Upon compliance, the clerk of the court shall present the person with a notice of compliance containing the seal of the court, and shall notify the Secretary that the person has appeared and resolved the violation.

This new law does not apply to any traffic offense which is a misdemeanor, such as aggravated speeder (25 mph over the limit), drag racing, driving while suspended, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident or DUI.

Bill to undo lifetime license revocations for repeat DUI offenders advances in Illinois House

From the State Journal-Register and Associated Press:

Drunken driving offenders stripped of their driver’s licenses could hit the road again if a proposal — supported by a prominent anti-drunken driving organization — keeps making its way through the Illinois Legislature.

A House committee voted 15-0 Wednesday to approve legislation that would allow four-time DUI offenders to obtain a restricted driver’s permit, which limits the time and place a person can drive.

Rita Kreslin, the director of the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, said the measure improves road safety because many offenders drive illegally without insurance. Kreslin — whose 19-year-old son died in a crash involving a drunken driver — said rehabilitated offenders should get another chance.

“I understand the frustration that some people might think that ‘Wow, you’re giving somebody a privilege when they haven’t earned it.’ In some cases that’s true, and those individuals will not be given a permit,” she said.

That’s because the application process would be rigorous, state Rep. Elaine Nekritz said.

Under the Northbrook Democrat’s proposal, four-time DUI offenders could only obtain a restricted driver’s permit five years after losing their license or their release from prison. They would need to prove three years of sobriety, go through treatment programs, and install an in-car Breathalyzer for life.

“A lot of these people are driving anyway, so we might as well legalize them if we can,” Nekritz said. “How else do you support your family unless you have transportation? It gives these people one more bite at the apple.”

According to Secretary of State records, 380 Illinois residents lost driver’s licenses in 2013. A vast majority of these revocations resulted from a fourth DUI conviction. Others involved fleeing the scene of a crash involving serious injuries or reckless driving that resulted in a death.

Secretary of State Jesse White’s office and several statewide law enforcement groups are remaining neutral on the measure…

The measure moves to the full House for consideration.

I wholeheartedly agree with legislation and wrote about it here:  “Will Illinois amend its lifetime revocation rule?

Bill would let drivers keep their license cards after traffic stops

The Illinois Senate is considering a bill which would allow officers to issue I bonds to motorists for traffic infractions instead of confiscating their license until their case has been resolved in court.

From the Daily Herald:

State Sen. Michael Noland, an Elgin Democrat, wants to change the law so Illinois residents can keep their licenses after minor traffic violations.

“For law-abiding citizens that made a wrong turn or were speeding a little bit more than they should, it will make life a whole lot easier,” Noland said.

State law requires people who get traffic tickets to post bond before driving away, so drivers trade their licenses for their freedom. The court gives back the license after the driver shows up in court or pays the fine…

Noland’s proposal, which he calls the “sign and drive” plan, replaces driver’s license confiscation with a written agreement the offender signs promising to show up in court or pay the fine on time, called an individual bond.

“He would provide you with the ticket,” Noland said. “You would sign your name promising to either pay your fine or appear in court. Then you would just drive right down the road.”…

Noland said his plan would make individual bonds the primary form of bond for a driver.

Courts would tell the secretary of state’s office if offenders failed to show up in court or pay fines. That office could suspend their licenses.

Former Republican state Sen. John Millner, a former Elmhurst police chief, said Noland’s plan “has merit” but could cause more paperwork for court officials when drivers skip their dates.

“There are a number of advantages and disadvantages in terms of giving up your driver’s license,” Millner said. “On one hand, it makes sure you show up in court. But it’s an inconvenience for the motorist and the officers.”

Noland said he doesn’t think taking the driver’s license is a good way to get people to show up in court, and some people will ignore their notice to appear in court no matter what the incentive.

“What we’re really getting at here is to stop inconveniencing people who are law-abiding citizens, who would gladly pay right away or appear in court if they want to contest,” Noland said. “But now they’re going without their driver’s license that’s very important.”

His proposal has been approved by an Illinois Senate committee and awaits a vote by the full Senate.

New Drivers Ed Classes to be required for Illinois 18 to 20 year olds

From a story by Ted Gregory of the Chicago Tribune:

In a few months, obtaining [a] license will be a little more complicated for older teens, increasing numbers of whom are delaying the rite of obtaining driver’s licenses. Starting July 1, Illinois will require all 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds to complete six hours of classroom or online driver education before receiving a license. Behind-the-wheel training will not be required.

Current Illinois law allows those 18 or older to receive their first license if they pass the vision, written and road tests. Driver education is optional.

Driving safety advocates in Illinois — already considered one of the more restrictive teen driving states — say the new measure will help reduce traffic fatalities among a high-risk group that is largely ignored. Others contend the new law may matter little and could harm driver training schools…

The new law will take effect about six years after Illinois imposed some of the stronger teen driving laws in the U.S. Known as graduated driver licensing, or GDL, the system calls for new, teen drivers to carry a learners permit for nine months; acquire 50 hours of adult supervised, behind-the-wheel training; and accept limits on passengers and night driving.

Study after study find a close association between a decline in young-teen driving deaths and more restrictive teen driving laws. A 2006 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that states with the most restrictive GDL systems experienced a 21 percent drop in 16-year-old driver deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that those more comprehensive programs yielded a near-40 percent reduction in fatal and injury crashes among 16-year-old drivers.

Illinois’ experience has reflected those results. Since more stringent teen driving laws took effect in 2008, car crash deaths of 16- to 19-year olds in the state dropped to 58 in 2012, the Illinois Department of Transportation reports. IDOT figures show that total was 144 in the year before those restrictions.

The number of deaths among drivers who are 18, 19 and 20 also dropped by 30 percent, to 60, in the year the tougher GDL laws took effect on Jan. 1, 2008, according to IDOT figures.

Driver fatalities in that group dropped again, to 39 the next year, before spiking to 46 in 2010 and remaining at 35 deaths per year in 2011 and 2012.