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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2007


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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 driving.”

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. Molaro.

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.

The 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.

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