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.”

Illinois no longer mailing vehicle emissions test notices

Thanks to our budget impasse, Illinois has stopped mailing vehicle emissions notices.  This comes on top of its previous decision to stop sending vehicle registration renewal notices.

From the Daily Herald (story by Erin Hegarty):

As another casualty of the state budget impasse, Illinois will no longer remind you when you need to go for vehicle emissions testing, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday.

This comes on top of the state suspending mailing residents reminders that their vehicle registration is expiring, a move Secretary of State Jesse White said could save $450,000 a month.

The state stopped sending the emissions testing notices in December and says drivers whose license plates expire in March will be the first to not receive the reminder notices.

Of course, it’s simple to look at the sticker on your license plate to figure out when your registration expires, but how will you know when your vehicle needs an emissions test?

The state EPA says most vehicles that need to be tested in 2016 include those with an even model-year from 1996 to 2012. The agency also says most vehicles manufactured after 1996 are subject to an emissions test after they are four years old.

Diesel and electric vehicles are among those the IEPA says are exempt from emissions testing.

Illinois residents can sign up for vehicle registration reminders via email at www.ilsos.gov/greenmail/, and drivers are notified whether a vehicle emissions test is required before the registration is renewed.

Gov. Quinn signs new Boating Under the Influence Law

Governor Quinn has signed into law a new Boating Under the Influence law, which will lead to driver’s license suspensions for anyone involved in boating accident that causes serious physical injury or death, and that person refused or fails a blood, breath or urine test.

From Fox32 News:

CHICAGO, IL. (KTVI) – Governor Pat Quinn Sunday signed a series bills to enhance public safety on Illinois waterways.  Quinn had stern words for boaters drinking and driving, “if you’re drunk while operating a boat, you may lose your right to operate a car”

The governor was joined by the family of Tony Borcia, a 10-year old Libertyville boy killed last July by a drunk boater.

Bill 1479 ensures that anyone operating a motorboat involved in an accident involving serious injury or death must consent to the chemical testing of their blood, breath or urine to determine blood alcohol or drug content. Operators who refuse testing, test positive for drugs or exceed the legal blood alcohol content limit, face suspension of their Illinois driver’s license. This law takes effect on January 1st.

Bill 1310 strengthens the state’s Boat Registration and Safety Act regarding a boat’s carrying capacity, redefines “authorized emergency watercraft” to have flashing blue lights and hikes penalties on boat rental operators who fail to equip their crafts with life jackets, fire extinguisher and lighting.

In 2012, there were 101 boating-related accidents on Illinois waters, resulting in 17 deaths and 77 injuries. Alcohol use was a contributing factor in 13 of the accidents and five of the fatalities.

Amended version of new DUI law now online

The latest version of the proposed rewrite of the Illinois DUI statutes are now online and can be read here.

I see that it now fixes one obvious mistake — whereas first offenders who failed a breath, blood or urine test, and second offenders who either did that or refused a test could get their summary suspension periods reduced by complying with the Ignition Interlock Permit (“IIP”) program, repeat offenders who failed a test inexplicably could not.  Now, they too will be able to reduce the period of their suspension, from 18 months to 12, so long as they sign up for the IIP within 30 days of their suspension and are otherwise in full compliance.

They are keeping the part that requires everyone who receives a summary suspension to present proof of an alcohol evaluation and treatment before reinstatement, even if they are found not guilty of the underlying DUI offense.

The proposed law also changes the definition of “first offender” for summary suspensions.  Currently, a motorist is classified as a first offender under the suspension law if they have not had a DUI or similar offense in the past 5 years (note:  this only applies to summary suspensions, not DUIs). Under the bill, the “five year” rule would be eliminated and only actual first offenders would be classified as such.

What I received this holiday season.

thankyouI just wanted to share with you a couple of “Thank you” notes that I received from two clients who had a combined four years of license suspensions rescinded this month.

I cannot thank you enough for all of your help regarding my case! … you have helped me keep my job and save my license! This was indeed a early Christmas present and I can safely feel I am given a second chance … you have given me hope and strength to keep my head held high and go on! I am forever grateful! Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I wanted to reach out and say it after being difficult and so worried about it! You really made an impact on my life and I’m forever grateful! Have a wonderful holiday season!

– Client with case in Markham

You were able to obtain for me the results that I was looking for and I am grateful for that.  It would have been a big deal had I lost my drivers license, so I am glad you were able to get the summary suspension rescinded.  I will definitely recommend you if someone I know is ever faced the legal situation that I encountered.

– Client with case in Rolling Meadows