Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Big Changes to Illinois DUI Law

On January 1, 2009 the penalties for being charged with a DUI will increase substantially. Those penalties are based solely on the arrest, not a conviction, as erroneously reported in yesterday's Chicago Tribune.

The changes are part of a bill that was unanimously passed by the Illinois General Assembly in 2007. The delay was to let the Secretary of State prepare to implement these changes. The law doubles the length of time driving privileges will be suspended for a first-time offender.

A first-time offender with a valid license and no accident(serious injury or death) who submits to testing and fails will have his/her driving privileges suspended for six months (currently it is three months) based on the Statutory Summary Suspension for DUI arrests. A first-time offender who refuses testing will have his/her license suspended for one year (currently it is six months). Again, this is simply for being charged with a DUI, not for being found guilty of a DUI. Think about it; even if all of the criminal charges are dismissed, there is no way for the law to make you whole for taking away your driving privileges simply because you were arrested.

Under the current law, you cannot legally drive without receiving permission from the court, for work or educational purposes, a Judicial Driving Permit (JDP). The new law, effective January 1, permits a first-time offender full driving privileges, after a 30 day suspension that applies to everyone, as long as they inform the court in writing that they wish to drive. That desire to drive will be granted if the defendant opts to have a Breath Alcohol Interlock Ignition Device(BAIID) installed in their vehicle. The cost of the installation and monthly service fees to the provider are an additional cost to the defendant. The defendant must pay fees in full upfront to the Secretary of State. The fees are $30 per month. A six month suspension will cost $150. A one year suspension will cost $330. The installation fee is separate and paid to the company providing the BAIID installation and services. It is approximately $100 to install and then roughly $85.00 per month. Yes, this is in addition to the fee paid to the Secretary of State.

There are several terms that could trigger a violation of the use of the Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP). But one to note is that upon a conviction for a moving violation such as speeding, running a stop sign, or making a U-turn where prohibited, the Secretary of State will lengthen the original suspension. A six month suspension would become a one year suspension, and a one year suspension would become a two year suspension. Yes, you would be required to pay the associated fees to the BAIID service provider. It is imperative that you get legal assistance immediately if you are charged with a DUI because in these times; this arrest has just become terribly expensive, with the potential financial impact running into tens of thousands of dollars.

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