Illinois Secretary of State to strengthen penalties for driving under the influence

By Daily Illini Staff Report

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced new, stricter penalties for citizens found guilty of drunk driving Monday. According to a press release, the new penalties were initiated at the second public hearing on the matter Monday in Springfield by the Advisory Committee on Traffic Safety.

The revisions aim to reduce repeat drunk driving incidents by “expanding participation” in the Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device, or BAIID, program. BAIID is a device installed in a vehicle that requires the driver to pass a breathalyzer test — with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or lower — to start the vehicle. The new initiative will require repeat drunk drivers to install the BAIID in their vehicles.

Henry Haupt, deputy press secretary for the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, said the policies were proposed to curb the amount of repeat drunk driving offenders and people violating license revocations (on the grounds of driving under the influence).

“Even though these convicted drunk drivers are being told they cannot drive legally for 30 days, what’s happening is some of them are,” Haupt said. “And even worse, some of them are driving while drunk.”

Haupt said the death tolls related to drunk driving have decreased since Illinois implemented an expanded version of the BAIID program in 2009, but White is not satisfied and wants stricter policies.

“Under current law, for the first 30 days of your suspension you cannot drive at all. It’s called hard time suspension,” Haupt said. “You cannot drive for any reason or anywhere.”

Haupt said White, along with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, are pushing to get rid of the hard time suspension and instead require that the BAIID system be installed during that time period.