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.

87 year old crashes through driving facility at end of road test

From driver crashes into license facility (story by Michelle Groenke):

An 87-year-old man who was taking his driving exam in order to renew his license crashed his vehicle Wednesday into a wall at the front of the Secretary of State’s driver’s license facility in Deerfield.

No one was injured, Deerfield police said.

“It happened around lunch time,” according to Secretary of State spokesman Dave Druker. “There is some damage to the building, but they’ll have it repaired immediately.”

Druker said it appears the man, who was in the car with an examiner, stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake, striking a post and several signs. It appears the examiner helped steer the vehicle away from the building, according to Druker.

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 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.

A real life example of why lifetime license revocations for four DUIs should be abolished

As I have mentioned before, our state legislators are considering a bill which would allow for restricted driving permits for persons who have four DUI convictions (which is currently a lifetime license revocation).  Today’s Chicago Tribune highlights one of the people that this law may (but may not) help out:

Lawmakers heard a personal plea from Mike Geever, a 52-year-old from Glendale Heights who wants his driving privileges restored so he can do his job as a plumbing parts salesman.

His long record of driving infractions includes five DUI arrests, with four convictions. He lost his license from 1985 to 1995. He lost it again, permanently, in February. Oddly enough, the permanent revocation was tied to his last conviction, which was in 2003.

A nearly decadelong computer glitch at the Kane County circuit court clerk’s office meant 2,345 DUI convictions were not reported to the secretary of state’s office, said Tom Hartwell, the current clerk, who inherited the issue from his predecessor. Most of the backlog was reported to the state last year, Hartwell said.

The secretary of state’s office issued Geever a license in 2007, and he kept the driving privileges until the record mix-up caught up with him a few months ago — about a decade late and after Geever said he already had cleaned up his life.

For Geever, the change in life started with going to church, getting mentored by his pastor and working through the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, something he said he still practices each day. He met his wife at a Bible study, and they’ve been married for more than three years. He’s a deacon at Lamplighter Bible Church in Streamwood.

“Now I go to bed at 9 and wake up to go to the gym at 5 a.m.” he said Friday. “I don’t party anymore. I have a family. I have learned from my mistakes.”

While Geever testified in favor of the bill, there’s no guarantee he would qualify to get a license if the measure becomes law. No more than one of the four DUI convictions could be related to drugs, and a state prisons official said Geever was behind bars twice for drug-related DUIs.

(Story by Maura Zurick for the Tribune)

Can I personally guarantee that if Mike Geever gets a driving permit that he won’t get another DUI?  No, I can’t.  And neither can Mike Geever.  Alcoholics and drug addicts are always at risk to relapse.

But I do believe that any person who is able to go 10 years without incident, who has totally changed his life and is working every day with his sponsor to remain abstinent deserves a chance to have a restricted driving permit, requiring him to drive with a breath interlock device, so that he can support his family.

I hope our Illinois legislators listen to people like Mike and vote for this reasonable and compassionate 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?

New Drivers Ed Classes to be required for Illinois 18 to 20 year olds

From a story by Ted Gregory of the Chicago Tribune:

In a few months, obtaining [a] license will be a little more complicated for older teens, increasing numbers of whom are delaying the rite of obtaining driver’s licenses. Starting July 1, Illinois will require all 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds to complete six hours of classroom or online driver education before receiving a license. Behind-the-wheel training will not be required.

Current Illinois law allows those 18 or older to receive their first license if they pass the vision, written and road tests. Driver education is optional.

Driving safety advocates in Illinois — already considered one of the more restrictive teen driving states — say the new measure will help reduce traffic fatalities among a high-risk group that is largely ignored. Others contend the new law may matter little and could harm driver training schools…

The new law will take effect about six years after Illinois imposed some of the stronger teen driving laws in the U.S. Known as graduated driver licensing, or GDL, the system calls for new, teen drivers to carry a learners permit for nine months; acquire 50 hours of adult supervised, behind-the-wheel training; and accept limits on passengers and night driving.

Study after study find a close association between a decline in young-teen driving deaths and more restrictive teen driving laws. A 2006 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that states with the most restrictive GDL systems experienced a 21 percent drop in 16-year-old driver deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that those more comprehensive programs yielded a near-40 percent reduction in fatal and injury crashes among 16-year-old drivers.

Illinois’ experience has reflected those results. Since more stringent teen driving laws took effect in 2008, car crash deaths of 16- to 19-year olds in the state dropped to 58 in 2012, the Illinois Department of Transportation reports. IDOT figures show that total was 144 in the year before those restrictions.

The number of deaths among drivers who are 18, 19 and 20 also dropped by 30 percent, to 60, in the year the tougher GDL laws took effect on Jan. 1, 2008, according to IDOT figures.

Driver fatalities in that group dropped again, to 39 the next year, before spiking to 46 in 2010 and remaining at 35 deaths per year in 2011 and 2012.