Gov. Blagojevich signs law to keep
impaired drivers off the road
Legislation requires ignition interlock device on cars of first-time DUI offenders
Governor also signs Tina’s Law creating roadside memorials for DUI victims
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed a new law
designed 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 also provides
jail time for offenders who try to evade the devices by driving
someone else’s vehicle. The Governor also signed “Tina’s Law,”
which 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.
“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. “And, by signing Tina’s law, we’ll make
sure relatives of DUI victims can memorialize their loved ones,
which will also help raise awareness of the dangers of drunk
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.
According the Secretary of State’s Office,
in 2005, 83 percent of Illinois drivers arrested for driving
under the influence were first-time offenders. Currently,
first-time offenders who have had their license suspended can
request a judicial driving permit, which allows them to drive
only to work, to school or for medical care. Illinois’ current
ignition interlock law applies only to repeat offenders when
getting a restricted driving permit.
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.
“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.”
“Interlock devices are
an effective way to keep drunk drivers off Illinois roads.
But this legislation also comes with increased sanctions and
penalties, which will help discourage repeat DUI offenses, and I
thank Governor Blagojevich for signing it into law,” said Rep.
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. SB 300 becomes
effective January 1, 2009.
House Bill 1900, also known as
“Tina’s Law”, was sponsored by State Representative Susana
Mendoza (D-Chicago) and State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale).
The bill allows relatives of DUI victims to
request a memorial marker for any crash that occurred on or
after January 1, 2003. The marker may memorialize more than one
victim who died as a result of the same DUI-related crash as
well as victims from DUI-related crashes in close proximity.
The DUI memorial markers will be a 36 by 24
inch blue sign with white letters reading, “Please Don’t Drink
and Drive.” At a relative’s request, a separate 36 by 18 inch
panel reading, “In Memory of (victim’s name),” followed by the
date of the crash, will be mounted below the primary sign.
program is modeled after a similar 10-year-old Colorado
program. This bill aims to raise awareness of impaired driving
by emphasizing the dangers, while giving families an opportunity
to remember the victims.
HB 1900 becomes
effective January 1, 2008.