Changes to Illinois DUI Laws: Consequences for Out-of-State Drivers

Mar 20 18:49 2011 John W. Callahan Print This Article

DUI defense lawyers Michael T. Norris and John W. Callahan understand Illinois drunk driving law and know how to fight DUI charges. We have obtained dismissals and not-guilty verdicts in dozens of DUI cases where our client failed the breathalyzer test. No matter where you live — Texas, New Jersey, Florida — the attorneys at Michael T. Norris, Ltd. and John W. Callahan, Ltd., can help you effectively handle a DUI matter.

When lawmakers want to appear to be strong advocates of public safety,Guest Posting drunk drivers can be an easy target. Nationwide the penalties for drunk driving seem to be increasing without bound. Some states are merely increasing the potential punishments for all drunk drivers, while others are creating new laws specifically targeting highly intoxicated drivers. Consistently though, the trend is clear: the punishments are becoming more severe.Illinois is no exception; beginning January 1, 2009, the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol in Illinois changed substantially. All people arrested for drunk driving face harsher penalties than they did under the prior laws. For example, first-time offenders now lose their driving privileges for six months, rather than three months, even if they complied with the officer’s request and submitted a BAC level greater than .08.However, these penalties do not affect everyone equally. The changes to the laws governing driving privileges following an arrest for drunk driving have a particularly negative impact on individuals arrested for drunk driving in Illinois who have out-of-state licenses.License Suspension for Illinois Drivers When someone with an Illinois drivers’ license is arrested for DUI in the state, that person is subject to an automatic statutory summary suspensionof driving privileges. This suspension is independent of any criminal charges for DUI and is administered by the Illinois Secretary of State. The length of the suspension depends on the individual’s prior history.Generally an individual is not allowed to drive while his or her license is suspended. However, there is an exception to this rule. Under the new laws, a first offender with an Illinois driver’s license may obtain a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP). An MDDP allows a person who is subject to a statutory summary suspension to drive after only 31 days, as long as that person complies with certain requirements.Notably, the MDDP requires the offender to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed in his or her vehicle. With a BAIID installed, the driver must submit to a breath test before the vehicle will start.The MDDP is expensive and burdensome. The individual is responsible for all costs affiliated with the BAIID, including fees for installation, rental and monitoring. The BAIID must be inspected regularly and the driver must maintain records of any unusual incidents. However, ultimately this is less burdensome than the complete loss of driving privileges.License Suspension for Out-of-State Drivers in IllinoisA different process applies to a person with an out-of-state drivers’ license arrested for DUI in Illinois. The state of Illinois lacks the authority to suspend an out-of-state drivers’ license; Illinois can only suspend driving privileges within its borders. Although an individual with an out-of-state license who is arrested for drunk driving in Illinois will generally be subject to a full license suspension, this suspension must come from the state that issued the license.Because Illinois is not suspending the license, the state is also not offering an out-of-state driver the driving privileges permitted by an MDDP. The Secretary of State is only authorizing MDDPs for individuals with valid Illinois drivers’ licenses. Accordingly, individuals without valid Illinois drivers’ licenses have no option for the reinstatement of driving privileges in Illinois.The Problems With This Disparate Treatment This disparity may pose a significant problem for any out-of-state driver, but it is particularly burdensome for people who work in Illinois while living neighboring states. Many people employed in the Chicago area commute from Wisconsin or Indiana; on the western border, many people who live in St. Louis work in Illinois. The geography of the state ensures that many Illinois drivers do not reside inside the state’s borders.Driving is a privilege, not a right. However, it is a very important privilege. For many people, driving is a means to sustenance and survival. For someone who lives in Indiana, Wisconsin or Missouri or Kentucky and works in Illinois, the inability to drive to work for six months is likely to force that person to stop working. Losing a job is difficult at any time, but this is especially true in the current economic climate.The availability of the MDDP is an implicit recognition of the importance of driving. Despite the six-month license suspension for a first-time offender in Illinois, the new laws grant restricted driving privileges after 31 days. However, by failing to extend similar treatment to out-of-state first-time offenders, these laws are simply unfair.

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John W. Callahan
John W. Callahan

If you have been charged with DUI or convicted of drunken driving, contact a Wheaton DUI defense attorneys  located in Illinois.  Michael T. Norris and John W. Callahan to assess your case and help protect your rights, privileges and freedom. Call 1-877-FELONY-3 or visit online today.

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