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Illinois Could Ease DUI Penalties for Repeat Offenders

Posted on in DUI

Illinois DUI offenders who have lost their driver's licenses could get back on the road if a current proposal passes through the Illinois Legislature. In May, an Illinois House committee voted 15-0 to approve legislation which would allow four-time DUI offenders to obtain a restricted driver's license permit which would limit the time and place an individual can drive. This permit would be designed for DUI offenders to be able to drive to and from work.

The Illinois Secretary of State records show that 380 Illinois residents lost their driver's licenses in 2013. Many of these revocations resulted from a fourth DUI conviction. Other revocations involved fleeing the scene of a crash involving serious injuries or reckless driving, which resulted in a death.

Illinois Restricted Driving Permit

Many who support Illinois SB1996 say the measure could improve road safety because many DUI offenders drive illegally without insurance. The application process to obtain a driver's permit under the new law would be very stringent. Four-time Illinois DUI offenders could only acquire a restricted driver's permit five years after losing their license or being released from prison. They would also need to prove three years of sobriety, complete alcohol treatment programs and install an alcohol detection device, called a BAIID, in their car that would disable the vehicle if they attempted to drive while intoxicated.

Illinois SB1996 also provides that the Secretary of State may revoke a restricted driving permit issued pursuant to the new law if the individual fails to comply with ignition interlock device requirement. Also, an individual who is convicted of driving under the influence of any substance while using the restricted driving permit shall have their permit revoked and be permanently restricted from receiving a restricted driving permit in the future.

The last action taken on SB1996 was on May 30 when the House re-referred the bill to the Rules Committee. This means that the proposed law may be changed yet again before it is signed by the Governor. No hearings are currently scheduled, however.

Driving Under the Influence in Illinois

In Illinois, driving under the influence is defined as operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other drugs. A driver is considered to be driving under the influence if the individual is operating a motor vehicle or has control over a motor vehicle while having a blood alcohol content or BAC of .08 or more. The .08 limit is the standard that has been in place in Illinois since 1997.

With a BAC of .08 a person's reaction time significantly slows. The risk of being in a DUI related car crash begins to climb when a driver has a BAC between .04 and .05. The risk of a DUI related car crash rapidly increases after a driver reaches a BAC of .06. By the time a driver has a BAC of .08 the individual is 11 times more likely to be killed in a single-vehicle crash than a sober driver. Additionally, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes is 4.5 times higher at night than during the daytime.

Blood Alcohol Content and Illinois DUI's

A driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) is determined by examining the ratio of alcohol to blood. The concentration of the alcohol in exhaled air is directly related to the concentration of the alcohol in the bloodstream. Instead of having to draw a driver's blood to test his alcohol level, an officer can test the driver's breath on the spot using a portable breathalyzer machine. This lets the police officer know instantly if there is a reason to arrest the driver for driving under the influence. It is important to note, in Illinois, a driver with a BAC below .08 may still be found guilty of a DUI if additional evidence proves that the driver was impaired by the use of any illegal substance or medication.

Penalties for an Illinois DUI Conviction

The penalties for a DUI in Illinois vary depending upon the circumstances related to the arrest. There are several factors which may come into play when a person is sentenced for an Illinois DUI including:

  • The driver's age
  • The driver's blood alcohol level (BAC)
  • Whether or not the driver was transporting a child under age 16
  • Whether or not the driver has previous DUI convictions

If a driver is arrested for a DUI and it is his or her first offense, it is often charged as a Class A misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 365 days in jail and/or up to a $2500 fine. An individual found guilty of a Misdemeanor DUI may also be required to complete community service hours, attend alcohol education classes, participate in substance abuse counseling, and attend a victim impact panel. A conviction on the charge of DUI will result in a revocation of driving privileges.

In addition to the legal ramifications of an Illinois DUI conviction, there are several other consequences that can arise including:

  • The driver will have to attend court dates and may miss work
  • A Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) may be installed in the driver's vehicle
  • The driver may be required to carry expensive, high-risk insurance for 3 years
  • The driver's license and vehicle registration may be suspended
  • A DUI is a permanent mark on a driver's driving record, unless the driver is found not guilty and the arrest is expunged

Contact an Experienced Illinois DUI Lawyer

The experienced DuPage criminal lawyers at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C., can provide knowledgeable legal counsel whether it's your first DUI or a repeat offense. The criminal law firm will answer your questions about DUI's and defend you through your Illinois criminal case and help you through the administrative Secretary of State hearing. Call 630-472-9700 or fill out the online contact form.

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