Lake County IL introduces new pilot program to help people clear their suspended licenses

Lake County Celebrates Road to Reinstatement Pilot Program Milestone

Lake County Board members, along with other elected officials, and the public gathered this morning to celebrate a milestone in the County’s innovative Road to Reinstatement Driver’s License Pilot Program.

The program is the culmination of a concerted effort led by Vice-Chair Mary Ross-Cunningham on behalf of the Lake County Board to address at the local level an issue that is experienced by many low-income individuals nationwide: the loss of their driver’s license because of an inability to pay outstanding fees and fines.

Nationally, approximately 40 percent of individuals who lose their driver’s license do so for reasons unrelated to improper driving. Losing a license has consequences beyond not being able to drive. It can impede an individual’s ability to commute to a job and earn a living to support themselves and their families.

To combat this issue, the Lake County Board, with support of other partners, initiated the Road to Reinstatement Driver’s License Pilot Program in 2019. The program provides qualified individuals with a process to request a reduction in their outstanding fees and fines.

“We know that many individuals in our communities face a barrier to employment due to their inability to pay fees and fines that they have accumulated,” said Lake County Board Vice-Chair Mary Ross-Cunningham. “We are proud to be the first county in the state to implement a program that is necessary for our communities.”

Lake County introduced the pilot program in February, when individuals throughout Lake County participated in a driver’s education session, where they also received resources and information related to employment and training.

In March, participants completed applications and met with volunteer attorneys from the Lake County Bar Association throughout the summer to determine their eligibility.

“We recognize that it is fundamentally inconsistent with the ends of justice for citizens of this county to lose their driving privileges solely because they cannot afford to pay outstanding fines and court costs on minor traffic violations,” said Donald J. Morrison, one of the volunteer attorneys who worked with the program. “The Lake County Bar Association has been proud to offer the volunteer services of its members to support this vital driver’s license reinstatement program to help insure equal access to driver’s license privileges for all citizens of Lake County.”

The milestone celebrated today was the court call, where approximately 20 participants who successfully completed the application process were able to request a reduction in their outstanding fees and fines, which when paid, would allow them to renew or reinstate their license.

About 80 applications were initially received for the program. Individuals were not eligible if they had traffic offenses such as DUI citations or felony charges, were habitual offenders, had their license suspended because of a child support issue, or had citations issued outside of Lake County.

“Many households nationwide are impacted by the cycle of debt created by compounding fees and fines,” said Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart. “I am proud of the work of Vice-Chair Cunningham and the County Board, our staff, and our many dedicated partners who worked tirelessly to make the Road to Reinstatement Pilot program a reality.”

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.

http://www.illinoisduilawyer.com/il-dui-lawyer/major-new-changes-to-license-reinstatement-laws-enacted

Gov signs into law bill requiring repeat DUI offenders to spend 5 years with a breath interlock permit before full reinstatement

Governor Rauner has signed into law HB 3533, which makes a major change to Illinois’s driver license reinstatement scheme after a person’s license has been revoked for a second DUI offense.

Under the new law, such a person would not be eligible for full reinstatement for five years.  However, under the new law, he or she would be eligible immediately for a Restricted Driving Permit.

And that permit must have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID).  So, under the new law, anyone revoked for a second or subsequent DUI will have to drive with a BAIID for five years.

Here is the synopsis of the bill:

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.

IL Gov Signs Law Providing Path for Driving Permits for those Revoked for 4 DUI Convictions

Illinois’ sixteen year experiment to get tough on DUI by giving lifetime driver’s license revocations to anyone with four DUI convictions has come to a (partial) end.  Governor Rauner has signed into law a bill which will provide people with four DUI convictions an opportunity to obtain a Restricted Driving Permit.

From the Chicago Tribune (story by Monique Garcia):

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday signed a measure into law that would allow drivers with four convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol to receive a restricted permit to drive.

Under state law, those convicted of four DUIs automatically lose their right to a driver’s license. The measure signed by Rauner would let someone who had their license revoked apply for a restricted permit after five years.
An applicant would have to show “clear and convincing evidence” they have not used drugs and alcohol within the prior three years, and prove they completed a rehabilitation program. Those with more than one conviction for driving while under the influence of drugs would not qualify.

If approved for the permit, the driver would have to install a vehicle ignition interlock device, which prevents a car from starting if alcohol is detected on a driver’s breath. If later convicted of driving under the influence, the permit would be permanently revoked.

Sponsoring Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, has said she knows the measure is controversial but is needed to help people trying to get their life on track do things like apply for jobs.

Here is the official synopsis of the legislation:

Amends the Illinois Vehicle Code. Provides a person with a revoked driver’s license, who is ineligible for restoration of the license because of certain prior violations including a 4th or subsequent DUI, may apply for a restricted driving permit 5 years after revocation or release from imprisonment, whichever is later. To be eligible for the restricted driving permit the person, must at a minimum, show by clear and convincing evidence at least 3 years of abstinence from alcohol and illegal drugs and successful completion of rehabilitative treatment. Any restricted driving permit issued to such a person must require operation of a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device. Provides the person shall not be eligible for a restricted driving permit if convicted of more than one violation of driving under the influence of drugs or an intoxicating compound. If the person issued a restricted driving permit is subsequently convicted of driving under the influence, the permit is revoked and he or she is permanently barred from acquiring a restricted driving permit. Allows a nonresident, who is ineligible for restoration of a license because of certain prior violations, to seek restoration of the license 10 years from the date of revocation. Makes it a Class 4 felony for a person with a restricted driving permit that requires operation of a vehicle with an ignition interlock device to operate a vehicle without one.

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.

Bill to change law that requires lifetime license revocation for anyone with 4 DUI convictions passes Illinois House and Senate, awaits Governor’s signature

An important proposed law that would end the lifetime driver’s license revocation for anyone with 4 or more DUI convictions has passed both houses of the Illinois legislature.  If signed by Governor Rauner, the bill will become a law.

I have written about this law before.  Here is a quote from one of my earlier posts:

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?

Here is the synopsis of HB 1446:

Amends the Illinois Vehicle Code. Provides a person with a revoked driver’s license, who is ineligible for restoration of the license because of certain prior violations including a 4th or subsequent DUI, may apply for a restricted driving permit 5 years after revocation or release from imprisonment, whichever is later. To be eligible for the restricted driving permit the person, must at a minimum, show by clear and convincing evidence at least 3 years of abstinence from alcohol and illegal drugs and successful completion of rehabilitative treatment. Any restricted driving permit issued to such a person must require operation of a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device. Provides the person shall not be eligible for a restricted driving permit if convicted of more than one violation of driving under the influence of drugs or an intoxicating compound. If the person issued a restricted driving permit is subsequently convicted of driving under the influence, the permit is revoked and he or she is permanently barred from acquiring a restricted driving permit. Allows a nonresident, who is ineligible for restoration of a license because of certain prior violations, to seek restoration of the license 10 years from the date of revocation. Makes it a Class 4 felony for a person with a restricted driving permit that requires operation of a vehicle with an ignition interlock device to operate a vehicle without one.

I will put up a new post when the Governor either signs or vetoes the bill.