Illinois DUI laws strengthened on Jan 1

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich in August signed a new law to reduce the number of drunk drivers on Illinois' roads by requiring first time DUI offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed on their cars. The law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2009 and also provides jail time for offenders who try to evade the devices by driving someone else's vehicle. "We will not tolerate drunk drivers on our streets. This law, the latest in our efforts to keep people safe on roadways, will help make sure impaired drivers can't get back on the road. But if they do, they'll face tough penalties," said Gov. Blagojevich. "

Senate Bill 300, sponsored by State Senator John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and State Representative Robert Molaro (D-Chicago), mandates that all first time DUI offenders who have a suspended license, and who wish to continue driving, obtain a monitoring device driving permit and install in their vehicles a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID). The initiative was championed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) National President Laura Dean-Mooney said, "MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving includes interlocks for all offenders nationwide, upon first offense, because we know it will stop the revolving door on drunk driving. We give special thanks to the leadership of Secretary White, Senator John Cullerton, Representative Robert Molaro, and Representative John D'Amico for passing legislation that will help make the roads of Illinois safer than before."

"With the signing of the interlock law, Illinois becomes a national leader in the effort to eliminate drunk driving," said Chuck Hurley, MADD CEO. "We know that interlocks are up to 90 percent effective on reducing repeat offenses when on a vehicle. The key to the state's success in maximizing the lifesaving impact of this important law will be in implementation excellence. This takes a law from the books to the actual courtroom."

"This is a new and innovative approach to deal with a very serious highway safety issue," said Secretary of State Jesse White. "Statistics show breath alcohol ignition interlock devices are very effective in preventing subsequent DUI offenses. As Secretary of State, my office will continue to do everything within its power to make the roads of Illinois as safe as possible."

Statistics show BAIIDs are very effective in preventing subsequent DUI offenses. New Mexico implemented a similar law two years ago and experienced in the first year a 12 percent reduction in alcohol related-fatalities. Moreover, studies show BAIIDs are effective in reducing subsequent offenses by up to 90 percent while on the vehicle.

"This is a new and innovative approach to deal with a very serious traffic safety issue," said Secretary of State Jesse White. "Far too many people are killed and injured each year by drunk drivers. This law uses technology to target DUI offenders in an effort to make our roads safer, while posing no inconvenience to the vast majority of Illinoisans who are safe and responsible drivers."

In 2006 in Illinois, 444 people were killed by drunk drivers. Nationally, 13,470 people were killed by drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater. "I commend MADD and President Laura Dean-Mooney for their invaluable support on this initiative in Illinois, as well as their efforts to enact similar legislation throughout the country in an effort to prevent the senseless tragedies caused by drunk driving," said White.

Despite the fact that the money appropriated by the General Assembly to fund implementation of the new BAIID law was cut by the governor, Secretary White reiterated his unwavering commitment to implementing this new program successfully.

"We should do everything we can to fight drunk driving and make our highways safer," said White. "This new law will save countless lives, and you cannot put a dollar amount on that. As Secretary of State, my office will continue to do everything within its power to make the roads of Illinois as safe as possible."

The law also increases the length of the statutory summary suspension from three months to six months for those offenders that failed the breath alcohol test at time of arrest and from six months to 12 months for those offenders that refused the breath alcohol test at time of arrest.

In addition, the law eliminates Judicial Driving Permits (JDPs) for first-time DUI offenders, and instead requires those offenders who wish to drive to install the BAIID before driving relief is granted. DUI offenders will be monitored by the Secretary of State's Office during the entire time the BAIID is installed in their vehicles.

DUI offenders are responsible for all costs associated with the BAIID device, which includes an installation fee of approximately $100 and rental and monitoring fees of about $110 per month.

DUI offenders who cause death, great bodily harm, are under age 18 or have a prior conviction of reckless homicide are ineligible for driving relief.

According to the Secretary of State's Office, in 2005, 83 percent of Illinois drivers arrested for driving under the influence were first-time offenders. The previous DUI law allowed first-time offenders who have had their license suspended the ability to request a judicial driving permit, which allows them to drive only to work, to school or for medical care. Repeat offenders obtaining a restricted driving permit were already required to install a BAIID device.

The monitoring device would require the offender to pass a breath-alcohol test before the ignition engages. Additional tests would be required at random intervals after the car is started. The devices can be configured to perform a variety of functions if the test fails while driving (such as sounding the horn and blinking the lights), but will not shut the engine off.

If an offender is caught driving without a monitoring device or driving another person's car, the offender could be charged with a Class 4 felony and sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail. Offenders who have repeated test failures on the device will be required to keep the device on their vehicle past the six-month time frame, and must prove they can drive sober to be eligible to remove the device. DUI offenders who cause death, great bodily harm, are under age 18 or have a prior conviction of reckless homicide are ineligible for the monitoring device driving permit, and will not be able to drive on their suspended license.

The State of Illinois drunk driving laws start with the .08 percentage blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit. Like all states across the country Illinois prohibits driving with a .08 percent BAC or above. If you are under 21 years of age in Illinois there is a "Zero" tolerance for alcohol and driving. The only exceptions are for individuals who consume alcohol as part of a religious ceremony or in prescribed medicine containing alcohol. Even with the exceptions, driving with a BAC of .08 is the limit in all cases.

How many drinks does it take to reach the legal limit in Illinois?

There isn't one calculation that works for all drivers. Variables such as body-fat percentage, age, weight, genetics and number of drinks consumed over a given time-frame all contribute to the DUI formula. Studies have shown that some individuals could have as much as a .05 percentage increase in their BAC for each drink consumed. Given that number, it would take very few drinks to become legally impaired in the state of Illinois.

The best answer is not to drink and drive. The State of Illinois has strict laws for drunk driving, and when you drink and drive in Illinois, you risk your freedom, finances and your future.

First DUI Conviction

If a person is convicted of drunk driving in the State of Illinois, the first offense will result in a minimum one-year suspension of your drivers license. In addition, a person could be imprisoned for up to one year and fined up to $1,000. A driver who transports a person under the age of 16 at the time of the violation, is subject to an additional mandatory minimum fine of $1,000, an additional mandatory minimum 140 hours of community service, which shall include 40 hours of community service in a program benefiting children, and an additional two days of imprisonment.

Second DUI conviction

For a second drunk driving conviction in Illinois, within five years of the previous conviction, there is a minimum three-year suspension of your drivers license, a mandatory 48 hours in jail or 10 days of community service. The conviction also could contain a sentence of up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. If, at the time of the second violation the person was transporting a person under the age of 16, the driver is subject to an additional 10 days of imprisonment, an additional mandatory minimum fine of $1,000, and an additional mandatory minimum 140 hours of community service, which shall include 40 hours of community service in a program benefiting children.

Third DUI conviction

Penalties possible for a third drunk driving conviction in Illinois include a minimum six-year loss of driving privileges, possiblie imprisonment of up to three years, a maximum fine of $10,000. If, at the time of the third violation, the person was transporting a person under the age of 16, the driver is guilty of a Class 4 felony and shall receive, in addition to any other penalty imposed, an additional mandatory fine of $1,000, an additional mandatory 140 hours of community service, which shall include 40 hours in a program benefiting children and a mandatory minimum 30 days of imprisonment.

The implied consent law

The implied consent law in Illinois means that any person that drives in the State of Illinois agrees to submit to a chemical test of their Urine, Blood or Breath. Refusal to submit to a chemical test may result in a similar penalty to the drunk driving laws listed above.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have per se laws defining it as a crime to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above a proscribed level, 0.08 percent.

License suspension or revocation traditionally follows conviction for alcohol-impaired driving.

Under a procedure called administrative license suspension, licenses are taken before conviction when a driver fails or refuses to take a chemical test. Because administrative license suspension laws are independent of criminal procedures and are invoked right after arrest, they've been found to be more effective than traditional post-conviction sanctions. Administrative license suspension laws are in place in 41 states and the District of Columbia.