State Gets Increased Power to Enforce DUI Laws

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation that will give the State increased powers to enforce DUI laws. Senate Bill 577, sponsored by State Senator John J. Cullerton (D-Chicago) and State

Representative Eddie Washington (D-Waukegan), gives more power and opportunity to the Secretary of State to penalize drivers who are arrested or stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence.

"People who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs are endangering other lives. That kind of recklessness shouldn't be taken lightly," said Gov. Blagojevich. "Illinois has some of the toughest

driving laws in the nation, but we can and should do more. This legislation sends a clear message to those that choose to drink and drive that we will go after them and make sure their driving privileges

are revoked."

Currently, when arrested for a DUI, an offender generally has a court hearing where guilt is determined. If the person is found guilty, the Secretary of State holds an administrative hearing, where the offenders'

license can be reviewed and revoked. If the person is found not guilty by the court there is no reason to hold an administrative hearing.  However, under SB 577:

  • The Secretary of State's hearing officer will be able to hold a hearing on the basis of available evidence even if the arresting officer fails to answer the subpoena. and will be allowed to take into consideration out-of-state convictions from DUIs when considering the issuance of a restricted driver's permit.
  • If a person is convicted of 4 or more DUI offenses, leaving the scene of an accident involving death or personal injury, or reckless homicide, or a combination of those offenses, the offender is not eligible for any yype of driver's license or permit.
  • If a person under the age of 21 is convicted of a DUI, regardless of where the offense occurred, the Secretary of State may revoke the driver's license. After one year the person may apply for a restricted driver's permit. One year after that they may apply for full reinstatement of their license.
  • An ignition interlock device will be mandated for any person that has had their license suspended or revoked more than twice and has a restricted driver license.
  • The Secretary of State may suspend or revoke a license if the defendant perjures themselves or submits falsified, fraudulent, or altered documents during a hearing.

"This legislation sends a very strong message that driving while intoxicated is always unacceptable, and gives the Secretary of State's office more weapons in the war against drunk driving," said Secretary of State Jesse White.  "I hope this law will be another milestone to make sure drivers think twice before getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. Our goal is to keep our roads safer and ensure every person in Illinois is protected from the harm that intoxicated drivers can cause," said Sen. Cullerton.

"This legislation is important to crack down on those who break the rules of the road and put the lives of themselves and others in danger," said Rep. Washington. "Signing this bill will send a clear message to drivers throughout the state that we do not tolerate driving under the influence."

In August, the Governor signed SB 172, making Illinois teen driving laws among the toughest in the nation. SB 172 tightened learner's permit and GDL requirements by:

  • extending learner's permit period from three to nine months;
  • extending nighttime curfews to drivers up to 17 years old;
  • moving up the weekday curfew to 10 p.m. from 11 p.m. and to 11 p.m. from midnight on weekends
  • and doubling up from six to 12 months the time during which a GDL driver, under the age of 18, may carry only one unrelated passenger under the age of 20, excluding siblings.

SB 172 also allows ticketing for all passengers age 15 to 20 for riding in the car driven by the new driver; requires student drivers to complete a full 6 hours of actual, on-the-street driving with a certified instructor; requires that new drivers have 6 months violation free of driving with a GDL before the age of 18 before becoming eligible for an unrestricted GDL license; and establishes tough new sanctions for street racing and strengthens sanctions for repeat violations for any drivers under the age of 21.

Also in August, the Governor signed additional bills as part of a comprehensive effort to enhance teen drivers' safety.

  • SB140 raised the age at which young people are permitted to simultaneously drive and use a cell phone;
  • SB 1557 requires instruction on the danger of distracted driving as part of driver's education programs; and
  • HB 1080 calls for the revocation of driving privileges for minors involved in gang crimes using a car.

Additionally, the Governor signed SB 300 and HB 1900. The first legislation aims at reducing 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 also provides jail time for offenders who try to evade the devices by driving someone else's vehicle. The second law, called "Tina's Law," allows relatives of DUI victims to request a roadside memorial to honor their loved ones.  Tina Bell, who inspired the legislation, was killed by a drunk driver while working as a flagger on an Illinois Department of Transportation construction project in 2003. SB 577 becomes effective June 1, 2008.