New Illinois DUI Law on Ignition Interlocks Means Serious Business

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In what's being called the most "stringent" ignition interlock law in the country, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich recently signed a bill mandating the use of these devices for people with one drunk driving conviction in the state.

Illinois now joins New Mexico, Arizona and Louisiana as the only states to mandate the use of ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders of DUI.

A Chicago Tribune story detailed that an estimated 30,000 first-time DUI offenders in the state would be required to install and blow into the ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. An ignition interlock device, of course, measures blood alcohol content (BAC) and prohibits the car from starting if alcohol is detected. Under this new Illinois DUI law, the ignition interlock devices would also test drivers periodically while the car was running.

While other states have passed ignition interlock laws for first-time DUI offenders, the new Illinois DUI law is said to be the toughest because it will involve the secretary of state's office. Specifically, state Senator John Cullerton of Chicago said in the story that Secretary of State Jesse White's office will monitor all breath test results from the ignition interlock devices.

While possibly leading to increased DUI penalties for those people who test positive for alcohol or try to bypass ignition interlocks, this Illinois DUI law would allow convicted drunk drivers to retain their driver's licenses and go to work.

Stephen Carr, director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Illinois, described this new DUI law as being more "humane" for convicted offenders in that it allows them to continue to drive to work and make a living as opposed to old DUI penalties that suspended or revoked licenses.

Under this new Illinois ignition interlock law, the ignition interlock devices would be rented and cost $150 to install. As just another reason to not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, these ignition interlock devices would cost an additional $100 in monthly fees. This monthly cost would of course cover monitoring by White's office and the ignition interlock manufacturer.

Nearly 3,000 Illinois drivers currently have ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. The Chicago Tribune story said that most Illinois drivers who currently have ignition interlock devices are two-time DUI offenders.

Illinois witnessed nearly 500 deaths in drunk driving accidents last year and legislators like Cullerton hope that this new DUI law will result in a drop off in that disturbing statistic from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Proponents of ignition interlock devices have often cited a similar law in New Mexico which led to a 12 percent decrease in alcohol-related fatalities following its implementation in 2005. With that said, this new Illinois DUI law will officially take effect on January 1, 2009.


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