Gov. Rauner signs bill allowing supervision for first offense aggravated speeding more than 26 mph over limit

Governor Rauner has signed House Bill 1453, which amends the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code to allow court supervision for first-time offenders who are charged with aggravated speeding (over 26 mph over the limit).

Here is the official summary:

Amends the Unified Code of Corrections. Provides that an order of supervision is not available to a defendant charged with speeding 26 miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit established under the Illinois Vehicle Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance if the defendant has been: (1) previously convicted for that violation or a similar provision of a local ordinance or any similar law of another state; or (2) previously assigned supervision for that violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance or any similar law of another state (rather than not available for a first-time offender).

Under the new law, supervision will not be permitted if the aggravated speeding occurred in a construction zone or in an “urban district.”  The new law will go into effect January 1, 2016.

So why is this important?

Under the current law, aggravated speeding is either a Class B (26-34 miles over the limit) or Class A misdemeanor (35 or more mph over the limit) and not eligible for supervision.

Illinois law defines “supervision” as “a means of disposition and revocable release without probationary supervision, but under such conditions and reporting requirements as are imposed by the court, at the successful conclusion of which disposition the defendant is discharged and a judgment dismissing the charges is entered.” 730 ILCS 5/5-1-21.

One court has stated that “the status of a case under an order of supervision then becomes in the nature of a continuance until the conclusion of the period of supervision whereupon the court shall discharge the defendant and enter a judgment dismissing the charges if the defendant successfully complied with the conditions of supervision.” The Illinois Supreme Court has held that supervision is not a conviction.

Supervision is a permissible sentence for most Class A misdemeanors, at least for the first offense.  So offenses such as battery, retail theft, DUI or reckless driving have been “supervision eligible” but speeding was not.  The result is that for a “crime” most commonly committed by otherwise law-abiding citizens, (most often young drivers) would result in a harsher sentence than the typical misdemeanor, and they would become a convicted criminal merely for going 81 on the interstate.

This change in the law is only common sense.  My only suggestion is that the law should be even more lenient, and allow for a sentence of supervision for this offense so long as the motorist has not had a similar offense within the past five or ten years.

How will this ticket affect my insurance rates?

Here is a link to an excellent article from Kiplinger’s about the effect on a ticket on your car insurance rates.

Here are some numbers that grabbed my attention:

A DUI boosts premiums by 93%, on average, and reckless driving hikes rates by an average of 82%…

Even a citation for a less serious moving violation can cause a big increase. For example, premium hikes average 18% for driving in a carpool lane and 19% for failure to yield to pedestrians. The impact of a speeding ticket depends on the speed. On average, rates increase 21% for driving 1 to 15 miles per hour over the limit, 28% for 16 to 30 mph over the limit, and 30% for more than 30 mph over the limit. (In some states, excessive speed is considered reckless driving.)

The specifics can vary a lot by insurer and state.

Read the whole article here:  http://m.kiplinger.com/article/insurance/T004-C001-S003-how-tickets-boost-car-insurance-premiums.html

Cook County prosecutors to get fuller driving records beginning next month

Starting next month, a big change for a few drivers is coming to Cook County Traffic Court.

Prosecutors will be gaining access to defendant’s full driving records, from across the country.  Currently, they only have access to Illinois driving records, and in some courtrooms, only Cook County records.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Cook County judges overseeing Chicago and suburban traffic courts will now have access to driving records from across the country when they sentence offenders in hundreds of thousands of minor traffic cases.

Prosecutors, who are responsible for informing judges of a defendant’s criminal history, have long had access to national court records in DUI or other felony cases. But for speeding tickets, only Cook County records were available for the thousands of cases judges hear each day.

That made it more difficult to comply with a state law limiting a special type of probation called court supervision to no more than two per year per driver, officials said. That law was passed after a Naperville family’s son was killed in 2004 by a chronic speeder.

After two supervisions for speeding, a driver should receive a conviction for a third speeding offense in the same year. Licenses can be suspended for three speeding convictions in a year.

The Tribune reported in 2010 that nearly 8,000 illegal court supervisions were handed out by Cook County judges between 2007 and 2009. In one case, a driver received nine illegal supervisions over a two-year period.

Those illegal supervisions represented only about 1 percent of the total number of cases, but officials have said they wanted to close the gaps.

“This should help address that,” said city prosecutor Lynda Peters, who supervises Chicago’s traffic court prosecutors.

What seemed like a relatively straightforward fix required cooperation from the Illinois secretary of state, the Cook County clerk and the county judiciary, she said. The biggest hurdle was getting the computer systems used by the secretary of state and clerk’s office to communicate with one another.

Peters said she began meeting with Chief Judge Timothy Evans in 2012 to discuss the legal and technological hurdles in making more complete driving records electronically available to prosecutors.

Under the new process, which is scheduled to begin next month, the county clerk’s office will electronically transmit the names and driver’s license numbers for all the minor traffic cases to the secretary of state’s office, which will run the information through a national database.

Prosecutors will then have the information available to present to the judge when the defendant appears in court. Peters said there are so many cases that there was no way for prosecutors to manually search each defendant’s record in the broader database.

“This is a tremendous leap forward in (judges’) ability to help keep the public safe by keeping dangerous drivers off the road,” Evans said Friday in a statement.

Fewer IL drivers were getting stopped, issued tickets in 2011

The Chicago Tribune’s TribLocal sections are reporting that Illinois traffic stops and citations have dropped dramatically in the past year.

The Tribune reports that:

The Tribune analysis found that, statewide, stops dropped 9 percent and the number of ticketed drivers dipped 13 percent. Police across the state are stopping fewer motorists and issuing far fewer tickets as the recession lingers. Compared to 2008, the number of ticketed drivers has dropped by nearly a fourth.

Also dropping statewide, albeit slightly, were the odds of getting a ticket. In 2010, more than 57 percent of all stopped drivers got a ticket. In 2011, that fell below 55 percent.

Here are some more numbers:

Northwest suburbs:  “Municipal police departments in the northwest suburbs stopped 247,736 drivers in 2011 and ticketed 150,149, according to the analysis That compares to those same departments stopping 261,202 drivers in 2010 and ticketing 165,696. In all, stops were down 5 percent while drivers ticketed were down 9 percent.”

North suburbs:  “Across the north suburbs, municipal police departments stopped 5 percent fewer drivers in 2011 than they did in 2010, according to state data. Traffic tickets issued by those departments were down 9 percent in that same time period, state figures show.”

South and Southwest suburbs:  “Municipal police departments in the south and southwest suburbs stopped 256,670 drivers in 2011 and ticketed 149,813. That’s compared to those same departments stopping 259,659 drivers in 2010 and ticketing 154,014, according to the analysis.”

This has been a continuing trend over the past several years.  I wrote about the declining number of DUI arrests here.  The Trib Local pieces seem to argue that the main reason behind the falling numbers are the reduced number of patrol officers due to budget cutbacks and retirements, increasing use of warnings instead of issuing citations, and drivers driving less miles and being more careful.

I think another reason might be the increasing use of red light and automated speed detectors to issue citations, over traffic enforcement.

What do you think?