Illinois Legislature Modifies Driving Restrictions on DUI Offenders

Author: Kevin A. Chrzanowski

The State legislature took significant strides this past legislative session to modify driving restrictions placed on individuals who have been arrested for a DUI and those that have been convicted of multiple DUI offenses. This past session saw the legislature grant repeat offenders the ability to obtain a restricted driving permit after 4 DUI convictions where the old law had disqualified these individuals from receiving license privileges for life. In addition to removing the lifetime ban, the legislature eased the 30 day hard suspension period for DUI offenders that qualify for the installation of the breath alcohol interlock device (BAID).

Public Act 99-0290 became effective on January 1, 2016, and this law brought with it some relief for individuals who have had 4 or more DUIs on their driving record. Although the perception may be that this new law will put many unsafe drivers back onto the road, the legislature put in place significant qualifications required to both obtain and keep this license. Under the old version of the law, a fourth or subsequent offender was not allowed to apply to the Illinois Secretary of State to regain any driving privileges and was considered banned for life from obtaining a license. Public Act 99-0290 seeks to alleviate the harshness of the lifetime ban against the need of repeat offenders to work and support themselves and their families with the need to monitor these high-risk drivers. Under the new law, an individual may apply to the Illinois Secretary of State for a restricted driving permit (RDP) after the later of 5 years from the driver’s most recent license revocation or 5 years from the driver’s release from prison resulting from a conviction on the most recent offense. The Illinois Secretary of State conducts a formal hearing on the application and the applicant must demonstrate that they have had a minimum of 3 years of uninterrupted abstinence from alcohol or illegal drugs, that they have successfully completed a rehabilitative program, and that they are involved in ongoing rehabilitative treatment through a properly licensed treatment provider.

The law specifically prohibits individuals from obtaining an RDP with more than one conviction for violations of paragraphs 3, 4, and 5 of 625 ILSC 5/11-501. These sections prohibit driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound, drug, or combined influence of alcohol and a drug or intoxicating compound. If an individual is granted an RDP, the individual can only operate a vehicle equipped with a BAID during the restricted driving times allowed in the permit. If a permit holder operates a vehicle without a BAID device the Secretary of State can revoke or modify the conditions of the permit. A conviction for DUI subsequent to obtaining an RDP will result in the revocation of the RDP and the individual will be banned for life from obtaining an RDP.

In addition to passing legislation designed to grant repeat offenders relief, the legislature passed Public Act 99-0467 which removes the 30-day hard suspension for DUI offenders that qualify for the monitoring device driving permit (MDDP). Under the old law, an individual’s suspension would go into effect 46 days from the date of their receipt of the notice of summary suspension, and they would not be able to obtain the MDDP for the first 30 days of their suspension. As you can imagine, this 30-day hard suspension brought with it significant collateral consequences such as the loss of employment and an inability to drive legally to perform everyday tasks such as attend a doctor appointment or go to the grocery store. Under the new law, an individual who qualifies for an MDDP will not face the 30 day hard suspension, and they should see no lapse in their ability to drive so long as they obtain the permit and install the BAID device in their vehicle.