SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation that will make Illinois roads safer, by strengthening the penalties for anyone who illegally tries to obtain a drivers license through bribery. Senate Bill 2167, a measure pushed by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, also extends felony penalties to driving school instructors and trucking companies for bribery. Current law only covers public officials.
“A bribe takes two people, one to make the offer and one to accept. We must be able to punish both sides, we must take measures to restore the public’s trust, and be tough on anyone, who offers or takes a bribe,” said Governor Blagojevich. “By enacting this law, we are doing what we can to keep unqualified drivers off our highways and keeping the public safe.”
The new law allows the Illinois Secretary of State to suspend the drivers license or drivers license application of anyone caught offering a bribe to a license examiner for 120 days. It also clearly defines the act of bribery to obtain driving privileges and makes it a Class 2 felony (punishable by up to 3 to 7 years in prison and fines up to $25,000) for anyone to offer or accept a bribe to obtain a driver’s license. Currently, it is a Class 2 felony to bribe a public official – including drivers’ examiners. The new law extend that provision to all those authorized to test drivers, such as third party examiners.
Under current law, criminal penalties only apply to public officials, but the new law extends this category to driving schools, trucking companies who administer third party testing and any other individual that administers driver’s license examinations.
“I want to thank the Governor and the General Assembly for continuing to support our efforts to fight corruption,” said Secretary of State Jesse White. “We will not tolerate bribes that put unqualified drivers on the road. Many times smaller bribe attempts are not prosecuted, but we now have recourse for anyone who tries to unduly influence the system.”
SB 2167 was sponsored by Patrick Welch (D-Peru) in the Senate and Careen Gordon (D-Coal City) in the House. It becomes effective January 1, 2005.