Illinois Prosecutors Doubt Effectiveness of Ignition Interlock Law
A law that should reduce repeat offenses of Illinois DUI has prosecutors shaking their heads. The prosecutors simply do not believe that mandatory ignition interlock devices for 1st DUI offenders in Illinois will keep more people from drinking and driving, according to a report by the Jacksonville Journal-Courier.
First of all, the prosecutors wonder how many Illinois DUI offenders will be able to afford the expense of the mandatory ignition interlock devices.
Not only will the DUI offenders be responsible for the expense of having their car equipped with the devices that require a clean breath test in order to start, they are also responsible for the costs of regular checks and calibration of the devices.
These charges are separate from and in addition to DUI penalties
and fines that prosecutors say that counties already have difficulty collecting from those convicted of Illinois DUI.
The new Illinois DUI law, which takes effect on January 1, also doubles the length of time that 1st DUI offenders have their driver's licenses suspended.
Currently in Illinois, a 1st DUI offense breath test or blood test failure results in a 3-month license suspension. In the New Year, it will increase to a 6-month license suspension for those who fail chemical testing.
Also under the new Illinois DUI law, any person suspected of drinking and driving that refuses a breath test or other means of blood alcohol content (BAC) testing will have their driver's license suspended for 12 months instead of the current penalty of six months.
After January 1, there will be no Judicial Driving Permits issued to DUI offenders while their driver's licenses are suspended. Currently these provisional driver's licenses allow 1st DUI offenders to drive on a limited basis and only for essential reasons, such as to and from work or school and to medical appointments or alcohol counseling.
Under the new Illinois DUI law, these provisional licenses will be replaced by Monitoring Device Driving Permits. With the ignition interlock devices installed, 1st DUI offenders in Illinois will be able to legally drive under any circumstances, provided they pass the breath test to start the car that, in theory, will prevent them from drinking and driving.
The ignition interlock devices that will be required by the new Illinois DUI law will prevent the car from starting before the driver takes a breath test. The ignition interlock devices also require the driver to take and pass breath tests at random intervals in order to continue driving. If the driver does not pull over to take the breath test when required, the car's lights will flash and the horn will sound until the breath test is done.
While Illinois prosecutors say that the new DUI law is a step in the right direction, they are skeptical that 1st DUI offenders will find ways to skirt the law and the mandatory breath tests, and will continue drinking and driving.
In addition to the costs of the ignition interlock device installation, rental and maintenance that prosecutors do not believe that many DUI offenders will be able to afford, there is still no guarantee that DUI offenders will not drink and drive vehicles other than their own or have someone who has not been drinking, such as a child, blow into the ignition interlock device for them so that they can continue drinking and driving.
Under the new Illinois DUI law, drivers arrested for DUI on or after January 1 will be considered 1st time offenders if they have not ever received statutory summary suspension, have not been convicted of DUI or assigned court supervision for DUI in Illinois and have not been convicted of DUI in another state within five years.
It will be a Class 4 felony offense for 1st DUI offenders to drive a car that is not equipped with an ignition interlock device while their licenses are under suspension, regardless of whether or not they have been drinking and driving. Prosecutors still say that they think this will not be an effective deterrent.
MADD, of course, has applauded the new Illinois DUI law.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White issued a press release noting that in other states, such as New Mexico, where ignition interlock devices have been required by law for the past two years, there has been a significant reduction in the number of alcohol-related fatalities.
While prosecutors are still skeptical, they agree that if the new law saves even one life, it will be worth it.