Governor signs into law bill removing waiting period for DUI driving permits

Governor Rauner has signed into law a bill (SB 0627) which removes the “hard time” waiting periods before a motorist could apply for a DUI-related driving permit.

Effective January 1, 2016, the bill will remove the 30 day waiting period before a person could obtain a Monitored Device Driving Permit (“MDDP”) after getting a first offense DUI suspension for either failing or refusing a breath, blood or urine test.

The law also removes the one year waiting time for a person whose license has been revoked for DUI to apply for a Restricted Driving Permit, and the three year wait for a person who has a summary suspension for a second offense refusal..

In addition, the law will require DUI arrestees to sign a form acknowledging that they have been warned of the license suspension consequences for either failing or refusing to take a breath test.  This is an advantage for prosecutors, who routinely lose suspension hearings on this issue when officer can’t make it to court and the defendant is able to testify that he or she wasn’t warned.

Overall, this law is a big win for both defendants and the public.  With the advent of breath interlock devices, there is no compelling reason to make people wait to obtain a driving permit when there is technology out there that will prevent them from driving drunk.

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law HB 3533, which makes a major change to Illinois’s driver license reinstatement scheme after a person’s license has been revoked for a second DUI offense.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 to allow driving permits for those with 4 DUI convictions fails in Illinois House

For the last 15 years, Illinois law disqualifies anyone with four DUI convictions from obtaining license reinstatement or even a restricted driving permit.  I have discussed this law several times on this blog, so I won’t re-hash all the reasons why I have felt that this “one-size fits all” law ignored the specific reality of individuals who have undergone dramatic change since their last DUI and are no longer a risk on the road.

Over the last few years, there had been some movement towards amending this harsh law, to allow these individuals a chance at a driving permit, on condition of driving with a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID), and proof of several years sobriety.

Sadly, the recent bill that was proposed failed to get the 60 votes necessary to make it out of the Illinois House (it only received 52).  While I am not a mind-reader, I am sure that the House members were reluctant to vote for anything that could be seen as “soft on drunk driving” particularly after the national headquarters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving overruled the Illinois chapter’s initial decision to support bill, and after the Chicago Tribune ran a front page headline that referred to the bill as giving “chronic drunken drivers another chance” (as opposed to a headline that said bill to give longtime sober drivers another chance”).

There is still a chance that the bill might be revived, after some changes have been presented.  If you or a family member is affected by this, you should contact your legislator now.

Proposed bill to overhaul DUI laws has been withdrawn

I have been advised that SB 294, the bill that would dramatically overhaul Illinois’ DUI laws, has been withdrawn from consideration a little more than 24 hours before it was to have been brought before the Senate Transportation Committee.

It is possible that the bill will be re-introduced later, but at least that will come after it has been reconsidered and subject to input from the Illinois State Bar Association and other organizations which were originally shut out of the process.

You can read more about the bill in this blog if you go back a few days here and here.

Will Major New Changes to Illinois’ DUI law be Enacted Next Week?

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?

Should I get a lawyer for an informal hearing?

“Should I get a lawyer for an informal hearing?”. That was a question I received today.

Specifically, the caller, whose driver’s license had been revoked after a DUI conviction, was referring to an informal hearing to request reinstatement.

For the uninitiated, if your Illinois driver’s license has been revoked because of a DUI conviction, you can only obtain reinstatement through a hearing process with the Illinois Secretary of State.

Informal hearings are for people who have only had one loss of driving privileges; formals are for everyone else.

Informal hearings are held on a first come, first served basis at certain Secretary of State hearing locations.

When you arrive at the location, a hearing officer will screen you to make sure that you are eligible and have all the required documents that are necessary for a hearing.

After determing that your documents are complete and adequate, the Hearing Officer will question you (usually off a pre-printed questionnaire) about your alcohol and/or drug use history.  You will get the results of your hearing by mail.

There is no rule requiring you to have an attorney at this hearing.  Many people attempt to do it themselves.  I don’t know what the percentage is of people who are successful doing it this way, but I know that I get many calls from people after they attempted this route but ended up denied.

So, why should you have an lawyer for an informal hearing?

  1. An attorney will be able to review your documents to make sure that they are complete and correct.  Unfortunately, it is very common to find mistakes in these papers.  If your paperwork is unsatisfactory, you will be denied.
  2. An attorney will be able to review your documents to make sure that they make sense.  If your evaluation says that you had three beers over two hours on the night of your arrest, and you blew 0.14, you will be denied.  Talk to an attorney if you can’t figure out why.
  3. An attorney will be able to counsel and guide you through this process.  The Secretary of State hearing process is confusing for many people.  It is worthwhile to hire an attorney just to answer your questions and make sure that you are doing everything correct.  As a bonus, an attorney experienced in these matters can give you helpful information to deal with alcohol and/or drug issues — which is ultimately more important than your license.
  4. An attorney will be able to help you prepare for your hearing, by advising you of the likely questions that will arise, and helping you to understand the terminology and phrases that will come up.  For example, I can’t begin to tell you how many have been denied because they thought that they had “lost control of their drinking” when they overdrank on the night of their DUI.
  5. It is good to have an attorney at your side at the hearing to keep you calm, clarify any confusing questions, remind you of anything you forgot and help you with any decisions that you may have to make.