Secretary of State Jesse White, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM) and the breath ignition interlock industry have been working to foist major changes in Illinois drunk driving law, without giving anyone much of a chance to think it through.
I first heard of this Wednesday afternoon when I received a phone call about it from Larry Davis, (Mr. Davis is one of the top attorneys in the state who, like me, represents revoked motorists before the Secretary of State). Mr. Davis had only just learned about it himself, and the same goes for every one else in our field of practice. It turns out that a shell bill had been introduced in the Illinois Senate (SB 924) and was stealthily moving towards a vote next week (It is now scheduled for a hearing before the Transportation Committee on Tuesday). Apparently, the powers that be didn’t intend to inform the public about the actual details of the bill (which is a 100 page pdf file: BAIID Rewrite FINAL – LRB) until as late as possible.
I did not receive a copy of the .pdf until this morning, and I have been trying to read it in between court appearances.
Here are some basics of what it will do (based upon my first review):
A. It creates a new type of permit, called an Ignition Interlock Permit (IIP). This is basically the same thing as the current Monitored Device Driving Permit (MDDP) that first time DUI offenders can obtain now, except it would be expanded to include revoked drivers (who are typically repeat DUI offenders) as well.
B. How it would affect new DUI cases:
1. DUI suspensions will be lengthened, but most of them can be reduced back to the current length if the person gets a IIP permit within 30 days of the effective date of the
suspension, and has remained in compliance with the terms and conditions of the IIP.
2. This means that a first offender who fails a breath, blood or urine test will have a one year license suspension (which can get reduced down to 6 months); a second offender who does the same will have an eighteen month suspension (which can be reduced to 12 months).
3. A repeat offender who fails a blood, breath or urine test will have an eighteen month suspension. For some reason, this suspension cannot be reduced.
4. Good news, however, for repeat offenders who refuse a breath test. Although their suspension will be increased from thirty-six months to forty-eight, they will be eligible for a IIP (currently, they would not be eligible for any driving relief during the three years of their suspension). This suspension would be reduced down to three years upon successful completion of the IIP.
5. Proof of an alcohol evaluation and treatment will be required to end the suspension, but this will be done through affidavits sent in the mail, not a formal hearing. Thus, treatment would be required even if someone was found not guilty of a DUI, but there was enough evidence to sustain a summary suspension (i.e., “reasonable suspicion”).
C. How it would affect drivers revoked for DUI:
1. It would remove the concept of “hard time” which currently prevents a person from obtaining a permit (except when he or she can prove a hardship) for one to ten years, or blocks someone from obtaining a permit during a concurrent DUI summary suspension.
2. It would remove the requirement that a person need to undergo an alcohol evaluation, treatment, and in some cases, proves abstinence from alcohol and active involvement in a support group before granting a driving permit.
3. Whereas the current system uses the promise of a drivers license or permit as a carrot to get someone to get into treatment, or a stick, by extending the length of suspension or revocation if they get new arrests, the new proposed system would, for the most part, get rid of this. If you are revoked for a DUI, and get another DUI, you can still get a new IIP (after you get out of jail, of course).
4. This new proposal seems particularly inadequate when it comes to drugged drivers. An ignition interlock will not prevent someone from operating a motor vehicle under the influence of heroin, for instance.
5. An evaluation, treatment and a hearing will still be needed for full reinstatement.
I am still in the process of thinking about these changes, what it would mean for my clients and the public at large. There is a lot to consider. I see no reason why this 100 pages of proposed changes to our DUI laws has been kept secret and is only being sprung on us now, in some sort of attempt to avoid debate. Shouldn’t such major changes be fully discussed?
What do you think?