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  It would require that any person whose driver’s license has been revoked for a DUI and seeks either reinstatement or a driving permit would be required to drive with a breath ignition interlock device (BAIID) for five years.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.

 

Sec of State is getting high demand for drivers licenses for undocumented persons

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Illinois on Tuesday becomes the largest state in the nation to test undocumented immigrants seeking temporary drivers’ licenses, but don’t expect a stampede right away at Secretary of State facilities.

Officials are limiting the number of by-appointment-only applicants to six a day at the two facilities offering the first tests for undocumented Illinois residents.

By mid-December, daily applicant loads should increase to 39 at the agency’s Chicago West facility, 5301 W. Lexington Ave., and in Springfield, at 2701 S. Dirksen Pkwy. Two more facilities will join as test sites later this month, and by mid-December, applicants will be able to make January appointments at 36 facilities.

“We’d much rather do this slowly and deliberately pace this out so we are doing it right by January,’’ explained Lisa Grau, manager of the Secretary of State’s Temporary Visitor Driver’s License program for undocumented immigrants.

Officials say demand is clearly there. As of Monday, 5,500 appointments had been scheduled through March 4 at Chicago West; Springfield; Chicago North at 5401 N. Elston, and the Bloomington facility. A special call-in appointment line has been receiving about 10,000 calls a day

No walk-ins will be accepted. Undocumented immigrants seeking driving-test appointments can call (855) 236-1155 or register online at http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com.

Applicants must prove at least 12 months of residency in Illinois, their name and date of birth and present two documents establishing their current address.

They will be given a written, road and eye test and can use any insured car for the road test as long as the insurance doesn’t specifically exclude them, Grau said…

In addition, such drivers must have car insurance by the time they drive on their new licenses.

Written driving tests will be available in Spanish, Polish, Chinese and Korean, and workers speaking those languages should be available at every test facility. Applicants are free to bring bilingual friends or relatives as translators.

Secretary of State to begin issuing licenses to undocumented persons in December

According to the Secretary of State’s website, people can start applying for Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses (“TVDL”) which are for people who do not have documented legal status in this county, through the Secretary’s web site or by calling 855-236-1155.

In order to obtain a TVDL, you will have to present proof of identity and residence in Illinois for at least 12 months, and pass vision, written and driving examinations.

Click here to get more information.

Over a thousand Kane County DUIs were not reported to the Secretary of State

According to the Daily Herald, the Kane County Board has called for a criminal investigation to find out why over one thousand DUI convictions were not reported to the Secretary of State.  Without reporting, these convictions would not show up on a person’s driving record, and no action would be taken against the person for the conviction.

This failure meant that a person whose drivers license should have been revoked for a DUI conviction was able to drive legally.  And a person who was arrested for a subsequent DUI might have only been charged with a misdemeanor DUI instead of a felony, or had his or her next DUI treated as a less serious offense than it should have.

From the Daily Herald:

It’s been nearly 50 days since Kane County Board members called for a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding more than 1,000 DUI convictions that went unreported to the state…”We received the request,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said Friday. “However, we do not comment on the status of an existing investigation or any pending or potential investigation.”

The response is standard practice for such investigations.

But that hasn’t stopped officials from asking what’s going on.

County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen … questioned why the request for an investigation is coming now versus when the problem actually occurred. Former Kane County Circuit Court Clerk Deb Seyller notified state officials of the unreported DUIs before she left office last year. Before that, she indicated problems with the DUI record-keeping during both funding requests for her office and testimony she provided during a lawsuit between her and the county board.

On Friday, Seyller said she’s had no contact from McMahon’s office since board members asked for the investigation in June.

“I can’t seriously think of anything for them to ask about, let alone investigate,” Seyller said.

She’s attributed the unreported DUIs to a faulty case management system in her office.

That system is currently in the process of being replaced.

It’s not clear whether McMahon’s office would even be able to investigate what occurred…”I will talk to them,” Davoust said. “It probably is about time to find out what’s going on.”

2012 Chicago DUI statistics

From DNAinfoChicago.com:

Chicago cops made almost 25 percent more drunken driving arrests in 2012 compared to the previous year, the study by the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists found.

In 2012, Chicago cops busted 3,795 motorists believed to be intoxicated, according to the report.

That’s up from 2011, when Chicago saw 3,037 arrests, AAIM said.

The alliance cited two Chicago cops among the most active in the state in lodging drunken driving charges: Officers Timothy Walter and Matthew Tegtmeier. Walter made 179 arrests in 2012; Tegtmeier made 154 arrests.

The state’s top DUI cop was Rockford investigator John Wenstrom, with 205, AAIM said…

According to the Secretary of State’s office:

• Three out of four DUI offenders are men.

• The average age is 34, with 60 percent under the age of 35.

• The average DUI offender is arrested between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. on a weekend.

• The average drunken driver is caught  with a blood alcohol level of .16 percent, or twice the legal limit.

The future of DUIs?

ct-met-aj-1-dui-technology-0628-jpg-20130627From today’s Chicago Tribune:

Starting Monday, just in time for Fourth of July celebrations, Illinois will add a high-tech tweak to its fight against drunken driving: a camera installed near the dashboard of motorists charged with driving under the influence.

Of the estimated 11,000 motorists in the state required to have Breathalyzer ignition interlock devices on their vehicles, more than 3,000 of them are caught each year trying to drive after drinking too much, said Susan McKinney, administrator of the state’s program. The Breathalyzer locks the ignition and stops them.

“We get an inordinate amount of people telling us it wasn’t them (blowing into the Breathalyzer),” McKinney added. “They say it was anybody but me. Now, the technology will allow us not to have to make a judgment call.”

Adding the cameras is the latest step in a movement that may bring even more technology to bear in the fight against drunken driving, a movement quietly gaining momentum even as it draws fire from those who think it would ensnare responsible drinkers and devastate the restaurant industry.

Prototypes in development would measure blood alcohol concentration through a touch pad on the dashboard or steering wheel, or perhaps through sensors that gauge the driver’s breath.

Illinois is far from installing that sophisticated technology, although Secretary of State Jesse White is “very interested” in the devices, spokesman David Druker said.

Motorists arrested on DUI charges can drive only with restrictions that include the ignition device. As of Monday, those restrictions also will require a camera on a visor, roof column or other unobtrusive spot that takes a snapshot when the driver blows into the Breathalyzer to start the car.

The camera activates again when he or she takes a Breathalyzer at random prompts three times an hour while driving.

I posted about this before (Smile while you blow?), and here were my thoughts then:

As you may know, the Illinois Secretary of State requires that most people who have been suspended or revoked in Illinois for one or more DUIs have a BAIID installed on their vehicle as a condition of a driving permit.  The BAIID will only allow the individual to start a motor vehicle so long as there is not a BAC reading of 0.025 or higher.  This means that a person can have a BAC that is well below the legal limit yet not be able to start his or her vehicle.  Because of this, it is quite common for people to find that they are locked out and unable to start their vehicle despite not having consumed alcohol for over 12 hours, and feeling completely sober.  When this happens, not only is the person unable to start the car, but he or she will then face repercussions for their “high” BAC, including but not limited to extensions of the suspension, revocation of the driving permit,and  impoundment or forfeiture of the vehicle.

 

Faced with such consequences, it is commonplace for the person in this situation to attempt to claim that someone else was responsible for the BAIID result.  Sometimes this is true, sometimes it isn’t.  Currently, the person may contest the action of the Secretary of State and request a hearing, at which time he or she can present their evidence.  This requires the Secretary of State to weigh the credibility of the witnesses and evidence.  A photograph of the actual test will make this determination a lot easier, for both the Secretary of State and motorist involved.