Innovative DUI legislation signed into law

Legislation that cracks down on drunk drivers was signed into law Aug. 24 by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The new law is the result of joint efforts among Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Secretary of State Jesse White and the legislation’s sponsors: Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Rep. Robert Molaro (D-Chicago).

The law requires all first-time DUI offenders who wish to obtain driving relief during the period of statutory summary suspension to install on their vehicles a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID). Motorists are required to blow into the BAIID, which measures their blood alcohol content levels. The device is designed to prevent DUI offenders from driving after having consumed alcohol.

“This is a new and innovative approach to deal with a very serious traffic safety issue,” said 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.”

New Mexico implemented a similar law nearly 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 one of the most important pieces of DUI legislation passed in Illinois in several years because ignition interlocks to stop vehicles from being driven by those who are drunk,” said Glynn Birch, national president of MADD. “Illinois continues to raise the bar for other states. MADD applauds the state of Illinois for protecting its motorists from the dangers of drunk driving.”

The law also increases the length of the statutory summary suspension from three months to six months for those offenders who failed the breath alcohol test at time of arrest, and from six months to 12 months for those offenders who 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 during the entire time the BAIID is installed in their vehicles.

DUI offenders who cause death, great bodily harm, are younger than18 or have a prior conviction of reckless homicide are ineligible for driving relief.

“I would like to commend MADD for this initiative,” said White. “They are working to enact similar legislation throughout the country in an effort to prevent the senseless tragedies caused by drunk driving.”

The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2009.

from the Aug. 29-Sept. 4, 2007, issue

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