SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed several bills aimed at cracking down on drunk drivers, including more jail time for drunk drivers. While 2004 was the safest on Illinois roads in more than 60 years, the Governor wants to do even more to make Illinois highways the safest they’ve ever been. Governor Blagojevich signed these new laws as the Illinois State Police and Illinois Department of Transportation conduct the largest DUI crackdown in state history during the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The stepped up enforcement effort began June 27th and runs through July 10th.
“Someone dies every day in our state because of drunk drivers.” Gov. Blagojevich said. “We will not tolerate drunk driving, and that’s why I’m signing new laws to crack down on drunk drivers.”
The far-reaching, tougher DUI safety measures signed into law today by the Governor range from increasing penalties for DUIs involving death to the creation of the aggravated DUI offense. Bills signed into law today by the Governor are as follows:
· Consistency in DUI sentencing: House Bill 887, sponsored by Rep. William Black (R-Danville) and Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago), provides for more consistent sentencing of DUI’s by requiring the prosecution of felony DUI charges be handled by local State’s Attorneys offices. Previously, municipal attorneys were able to prosecute these crimes.
· Tougher penalties for driving on a DUI-revoked license: House Bill 888, sponsored by Rep. William Black (R-Danville) and Sen. Dan Cronin (R-Elmhurst), toughens penalties for persons caught driving on a license or permit that has been suspended or revoked because of DUI, makes it a class four felony (1-3 years in prison) for the fifth through ninth offenses, a class three felony (2-5 years in prison) for the 10th through 14th offenses and a class 2 felony (3-7 year in prison) for a 15th or greater offense.
· Harsher sentencing for causing death while DUI: House Bill 1081, sponsored by Rep. William Davis (D-East Hazel Crest) and Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago), states that a person who is convicted of aggravated DUI that results in the death of one or more persons, will be sentenced to a term of between 3-14 years in prison, unless a court determines extraordinary circumstances exist.
· Chemical testing required for those who hit-and-run: House Bill 1351, sponsored by Rep. William Black (R-Danville) and Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago), states that anyone arrested for leaving the scene of a crash involving death or personal injury must submit to chemical testing within 12 hours of the accident or their driver’s license may be suspended.
· Interrogations and confessions of aggravated DUI suspects must be recorded: Senate Bill 72, sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Rep. Patricia Reid Lindner (R-Sugar Grove), requires police to record interrogations and confessions in cases where a person is charged with DUI that resulted in a death.
· More severe punishment for DUI while transporting a child: House Bill 657, sponsored by Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) and Sen. Terry Link (D-Lake Bluff), increases the penalties for drivers over the age of 21 who transport a child under the age of 16 while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or intoxicating compounds.
· Harsher penalties for repeat DUI offenders: House Bill 3816, sponsored by Rep. Sandra Pihos (R-Glen Ellyn) and Sen. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton), stipulates that those convicted of DUI a third or fourth time are guilty of a Class 2 felony, while a fifth time is a Class 1 Felony. With a fourth or fifth conviction, offenders are no longer eligible to receive a sentence of probation or conditional discharge. House Bill 1132, sponsored by Rep. Bill Black (R-Danville) and Sen. Adeline Geo-Karis (R-Zion), provides that any person convicted a sixth or subsequent time of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or intoxicating compounds is guilty of a Class X Felony, requiring a sentence of 6 to 30 years in prison.
"I want to thank Gov. Blagojevich for making the statement that we are not going to tolerate drinking and driving in Illinois. These new laws will send a strong message to criminals who disregard the laws of this state - that you will be punished. The people of Illinois will not permit drunk drivers to destroy innocent lives and get off with a slap on the wrist, we are now holding these criminals accountable for their irresponsible actions," said Rep. Black.
“It is my sincere hope that House Bill 1081 will help to stem the tragic occurrences that happen when individuals make the choice to drive while intoxicated,
.” said Rep. Davis
As the Governor signed the new penalties into law, the Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois State Police are conducting the state’s largest ever DUI crackdown over the July 4th holiday weekend. During this year’s You Drink & Drive. You Lose campaign, state, county and local law enforcement agencies conducted more than 800 roadside safety checks, taking a zero tolerance approach to impaired driving.
The July 4th law enforcement action and new DUI laws coincide with one of the year’s deadliest holiday driving seasons. During the 2003 Independence Day holiday, 514 motorists died nationwide in traffic crashes, 55 percent of those crashes were alcohol-related. In Illinois, 27 people were killed in traffic crashes. Annually in Illinois, over 40 percent of all traffic crashes involve alcohol.
Fatalities in alcohol-related crashes are on the decline nationally. In 2003, 16,653 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes compared to 17,013 killed in 2002. That trend is mirrored in Illinois. In 2003, 639 Illinois motorist died in alcohol-related crashes compared to 648 in 2002.
“Alcohol-related fatalities are declining in our state, thanks to Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s leadership on this issue, and we want to keep it that way,” said Timothy W. Martin, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). “That is why IDOT initiated the largest impaired driving enforcement effort of its kind. Our goal is to ensure everyone has a happy and safe July 4th holiday and gets home in one piece.”