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.

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?

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.

License Reinstatement

I often see it reported in the newspapers that someone has been convicted of a DUI and had their license “revoked for one year.” In fact, if your license is revoked as a result of a DUI conviction, your license will be revoked indefinitely. You become eligible for reinstatement after one year (if you only have one DUI conviction, its five years before being eligible if you have had two convictions, ten if you have had three, and never if you have had four or more).

I emphasize the word eligible because the Secretary of State is not obligated to return anyone’s license. They will only do so, upon application for reinstatement and after a hearing, at which time it must be determined that the person will be safe and responsible. This is not an easy thing to prove.

Today I received notification that two of my clients were granted reinstatement. One of them had been revoked since 1998 — thirteen years ago! He had not felt ready to appear before the Illinois Secretary of State and make his case for reinstatement until recently. So today’s lesson: once your license is revoked, it does not come back automatically; you have to earn it.