Illinois police are currently in the midst of a statewide drunk driving crackdown, but new legislation will actually relax DUI penalties in the near future.
Beginning on January 1, the state of Illinois will eliminate the requirement that anyone arrested for DUI must be kept off the road for at least 30 days. On the surface, it may seem like the state of Illinois is going easy on DUI offenders, but the measure actually has a good deal of support from anti-DUI activists. Under the new law, anyone arrested for DUI will be able to keep driving so long as they install an ignition interlock devices, which requires that the driver of the vehicle is sober before the device will allow the car to be started.
“It’s a win-win for everybody to make sure that a person is driving legally and has insurance,” said Rita Kreslin, of the Schaumburg-based advocacy group Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists.
Why It’s Important
The ultimate goal of everyone involved is to keep drunk drivers off the road, and while the loss of driving privileges is certainly still a possibility for those convicted of DUI, the 30-day suspension, oftentimes while the case is still working through the trial phase, had unintended consequences. People who were contesting their arrests needed to find a way to make life work without a vehicle for 30 days, while others were accepting plea deals with hefty fines just to avoid losing their license.
“We’ve always thought that the biggest deterrent was removing someone’s driver’s license. But with all the plea bargaining going on and with the different loopholes, it was really not doing a whole lot of good if people were given their driver’s license back anyway,” said Kreslin. “[The new law] “is helping people to get to their jobs and take care of their families and do it safely and legally, and — hopefully — keeping them sober.”
In the end, the removal of this stipulation will ensure people don’t lose their jobs or their child care after a DUI arrest, and justice will be allowed to play out before licenses suspensions are handed out. And again, DUI arrestees are only allowed to drive after an arrest if they install an ignition interlock device, which typically costs about $100 a month, not factoring in installation charges.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, likely the most recognized anti-drunk driving group, actually supported the elimination of the 30-day no driving period. In a letter to Illinois officials, MADD said that states that got rid of mandatory suspensions fared better than others, and they actually noted that keeping the old standards would be “dangerous.”
Related source: Chicago Tribune