Monday, April 20, 2009

I wrote the Book on Illinois DUI Laws

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Monday, February 09, 2009

New state DUI law's success rate remains a source of debate

Visit Americas Top DUI and DWI Attorneys at www.1800dialdui.com or call 1-800-DIAL-DUI to find a DUI OUI DWI Attorney Lawyer Now! By Christy Gutowski | Daily Herald Staff Contact writer It's hailed as Illinois' toughest crackdown on drunken drivers since the state lowered the legal blood-alcohol limit to .08 percent more than a decade ago. As many as 41,500 first-time DUI offenders this year may have to install an alcohol ignition interlock to get back out on the road legally. Illinois is one of eight states where first-time offenders are mandated or highly induced into installing the instrument. Proponents say the device is up to 90 percent successful in curbing a drunken driver while its installed, but even they admit recidivism rates climb again afterward. Its success rate - and the device itself - remains a source of debate. Busted About the size of a cellular phone, the Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device measures a motorist's blood-alcohol content when they blow into it. It allows first-time offenders to drive legally during their suspension period. In Illinois, the length of the suspension also was doubled with the new law, to six months if the motorist cooperated with police but failed breath/chemical testing, or 12 months for a refusal. Motorists still can't drive during the first 30 days of their suspensions. They have the option to apply for the program once they go to court. It replaces the conditional driving permit a judge used to give to eligible offenders so they could legally drive to specific places, such as work, school or the doctor, during the suspension. There are no such restrictions with the new program. "This way, at least they get to drive," said Susan McKeigue, the Illinois executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which spearheaded the law. "They just don't get to drive drunk." "It's using technology to stop this violent crime," she added. "You get hit by a drunk, it's assault with a deadly weapon." The offender must blow into the instrument to start the car and then again within the first 15 minutes and twice an hour thereafter. The device won't stop the car in mid-drive, but it will honk the horn and flash the lights to alert police. The car will not start if the instrument records a blood-alcohol level of .025 or higher. The motorist will be prompted to wait 10 minutes and try again. The ignition will be locked for 24 hours if there's three such readings in a 30-minute period. The interlock records the results in its internal memory. Every 60 days, the drivers must take their cars to the vendor, which sends the results to the Illinois Secretary of State for review and possible enforcement. The punishment for violations begins with a 90-day extension of the suspension period to license revocation or the car being impounded for 30 days or seized. If drivers are convicted of deliberately trying to skirt the law, such as driving a different car, they face a felony punishable by up to three years in prison. The cost isn't cheap. The offender pays about $85 to install the device, another $80 a month to rent, and another $30 a month in fees that the Illinois Secretary of State charges to administer the program. That's on top of first-time DUI court fines and fees of up to $2,500 and the cost of a good DUI attorney - about $5,000. They also must contribute to a state fund for poor offenders, determined by a judge as unable to afford the program. First-time offenders are eligible for the program if they are at least 18 with a valid license and were not involved in an alcohol-related crash that caused serious injury or death. Those who drive a bus, cab, or truck or otherwise hold commercial licenses are only eligible if the offense occurred off duty in their personal car. The law defines a first-time offender as someone with a valid license who has not had a DUI conviction in the last five years. And therein lies one of many issues critics point to as a problem. Too much, too little? MADD wants all 50 states to pass such laws, arguing it will save more lives, but critics contend it will lead to measures that restrict alcohol policies too much with few lifesaving results. Attorney Donald Ramsell, whose Wheaton law firm specializes in DUI defense, said the new law punishes people before conviction and hurts other family members who are forced to blow into the device to use the same car. He questions what effect it'll have to reduce DUI deaths. By his research, less than 1 percent of first-time offenders arrested in Illinois each year are rearrested within the next 12 months, which is the longest period the device is on the car. So, he argues, after calculating the monthly fees, about $27 million a year is going to a half-dozen private companies authorized to install the instruments to try to stop a small number of people for a short amount of time. And scofflaws who are willing to risk a prison term can try to skirt the law simply by driving a different car or having a sober person blow for them. "It's a baldfaced lie that it's going to be a big accident or death preventer," Ramsell said. "All this money is being dumped into this when there's absolutely no proof it is effective in any way, shape or form. It's pork barrel politics meets DUI." Another staunch critic of interlock laws for first-time offenders is the Washington, D.C.-based American Beverage Institute, a restaurant trade association. The group said it supports "sensible alcohol policies" for repeat offenders and those arrested with high blood-alcohol levels since national transportation data shows those groups are primarily involved in DUI fatalities. ABI Managing Director Sarah Longwell said the laws MADD advocates don't allow judges to distinguish between the social drinker who is within a few sips of .08 and those who are way over the limit. She warned such laws could lead to more draconian measures. "To divert our attention and focus on social drinkers is to take our eye off the ball," Longwell said. "The people who cause fatalities are people who have high BACs and are repeat offenders. If we want to solve the problem, then we have to go after these chronic drunk drivers." And that's exactly what proponents say the new law accomplishes. They point to studies showing one-third of all drunken drivers have a prior DUI conviction. "What we're trying to do is prevent the first-time offender from becoming the chronic offender," said Susan McKinney, administrator of the Illinois Secretary of State's BAIID division. "We know this is not going to end drunken driving, but it's going to help." The success rate in New Mexico, which in June 2005 became the first state to enact a first-offender interlock law, is highly debated. Statistics show a 19 percent drop in DUI fatalities there from 2004 to 2007, but critics say the death rate already was dropping. If viewed during a 10-year span, the decrease is closer to 6 percent, they argue. The American Civil Liberties Union has not weighed in on the ignition interlock laws, but high courts in states where they are in use have upheld them as constitutional. The next frontier So far, one in every 10 DUI offenders nationwide has an interlock device, but that number is expected to climb. Last year, 71 alcohol-ignition interlock bills were considered in 27 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. "It looks like there is a trend," said Anne Teigen, a NCSL policy specialist. "More states are looking at ignition interlocks as a way to reduce impaired driving." Those on the front lines say there will come a day not so far in the future when even this device will be obsolete. They envision every car as its original equipment having a largely invisible device that keeps the vehicle from running if the driver had too much to drink. A five-year research program, sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, is developing the advanced technology so that it is as nonintrusive and affordable as today's air bags. It includes sensors in the wheel or shift lever that measures alcohol in perspiration, so called "sniffers" that check cabin air and a camera that monitors eye movements. The research program, which launched a Web site, dadss.org, short for Driver Alcohol Detective System for Safety, estimates in-vehicle testing of prototypes by 2013. "I personally think we will get drunken driving eliminated in this lifetime," McKeigue said. "Now that's something to be proud of."

Daily Herald | New state DUI law's success rate remains a source of debate

Daily Herald | New state DUI laws success rate remains a source of debate Visit Americas Top DUI and DWI Attorneys at www.1800dialdui.com or call 1-800-DIAL-DUI to find a DUI OUI DWI Attorney Lawyer Now!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Attorneys criticize new DUI law

Visit Americas Top DUI and DWI Attorneys at www.1800dialdui.com or call 1-800-DIAL-DUI to find a DUI OUI DWI Attorney Lawyer Now! - A new state law aimed at reducing drunken-driving crashes and deaths has triggered criticism from local defense lawyers who say it may not keep the intoxicated off area roads. The law, less than a month old, requires first-time drunken-driving offenders to install breath-monitoring devices in their vehicles. Similar to the blow tests administered by local police during traffic stops, anyone convicted of a first DUI must blow into these steering wheel-mounted contraptions before the car will start. And at timed intervals on their drives, they must resubmit to breath tests to make sure they cannot thwart the system. But many attorneys don’t think it’s going to be easy to implement and wonder when — not if — the first court challenge to the law will be filed. “It’s the modern-day version of the public stockades. The person, when they wanted to publicly humiliate someone, they would lock you in that for a couple of days. It has that sort of taste to it,” said Donald Ramsell, a noted DuPage County DUI defense lawyer who has handled about 13,000 DUI cases since 1986. “It’s a real overkill.” He said he fully expects a court challenge to the law. So does former Cook County assistant state’s attorney Tracy Gentile, now a criminal defense lawyer and associate attorney at Sam L. Amirante & Associates PC. “I think it’s going to cause further problems in court,” she said, adding judges no longer have discretion to sentence the most-deserving defendants to this particular punishment. Officials within the division of the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office charged with directing the program had hoped to have a maximum of 30 employees by the time the law was in full swing. But budget cuts by Gov. Rod Blagojevich last year shorted the program about $3 million. The breath-alcohol ignition interlock division currently employs just six. “I feel confident we’re going to be able to handle it,” said Susan McKinney, administrator of the division. The equipment, called a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device, requires a driver to blow into a tube so his or her breath can be tested. The car won’t start if the breath sample registers a 0.025 blood alcohol level or higher. The legal limit in Illinois is 0.08, much higher than this device allows. “The machine should be at 0.08. At 0.05, it will dismantle completely. You have to take the car into the shop,” Ramsell said. “The car won’t start if you blow 0.025. You have to wait half an hour and try it again.” The device also requires samples at random intervals throughout the trip to prevent having someone else blow into the device to get the car started. Gentile said she thinks some defendants will try to skirt the safeguards. “People are just trying to get to work,” she said. “What do you want? People on welfare? I know I would do anything to support my son.” Ramsell said the day may come when a DUI defendant with a little knowledge of wiring finds a way around the device. “Go online. You can find canisters of air to hook up to these things,” he added. Any first-time DUI offender who wants to drive during the time of his or her statutory summary suspension will have to elect into the program. Suspension times also have increased — from six months to 12 months for a driver who refuses testing when they are pulled over and from three months to six months for drivers who take the test and have a BAC of 0.08 or higher. The court will ask the offender if he or she wants a Monitoring Device Driving Permit, then will order the secretary of state’s office to issue one if the offender wants in the program. The MDDP replaces the judicial driving permit, which could be granted by the court and allowed the first-time offender to drive at certain times, such as to get to work and back. A person who is caught driving on a DUI-suspended license without the BAIID can be charged with a Class 4 felony. Until January, the offense was a Class A misdemeanor, said Rich Kim, chief of the traffic and misdemeanor division of the Sangamon County state’s attorney’s office. “Most of the time people are receptive,” McKinney said. “Their concerns are not about any unfairness of the law, but about the difficulty they see in implementing pieces of it.” BAIID is available from one of six certified vendors, and can be installed at any of more than 150 approved sites. No Illinois resident lives more than 28 miles away from an installation site, according to the secretary of state. Summary suspensions aren’t effective until 45 days after the DUI arrest, and the MDDP doesn’t allow any driving at all for the first 30 days of the suspension. If someone was charged with a DUI Jan. 1, the soonest they could obtain an MDDP would be mid-March. Once issued, an offender has 14 days to have a BAIID installed on any and all cars they want to drive during the suspension. The device costs about $100 to install, depending on the type of vehicle and other factors, with an $80-a-month rental fee, both paid to the vendor. There’s also a $30 monthly monitoring fee paid to the secretary of state’s office. Because there is no driving allowed during the first month of the summary suspension, that means the minimum cost to the offender will be about $650. “You could have gotten 1 million free cab rides,” Ramsell said. “I’ve already got people calling me complaining they can’t afford it.” The law also requires an indigency fund to be used for offenders who want the MDDP but can’t afford to pay for the device. The fund will be built from a surcharge added to paying customers’ rental and installation fees. The fund can’t be used to pay the secretary of state’s monitoring fee. Those fees are up to the offender to pay. Indigency and how to determine it is seen as one of the problems with the new law. Judges — who have no say as to whether the MDDP is granted — apparently will be the sole arbiter of whether someone qualifies as indigent. “There is no in-between,” McKinney said. “There is no sliding scale, so someone is either indigent or they’re not. But we have to implement the law the way it is written.” McKinney said she’s working with a group of judges to see if they can come up with some indigency guidelines. “The criteria isn’t the same as for asking for a public defender,” she said. With approximately 40,000 first-time DUI offenders each year in Illinois, Springfield attorney Scott Sabin said he thinks the sheer number of people who will want into the program will be overwhelming. Some estimate that as many as 30,000 first-time offenders could be in the program by the end of 2009. Sabin said he might have had two to three clients a week ask for a judicial driving permit. Ramsell said of about 40,000 first-time offenders, between 1 percent and 3 percent re-offend within the 12-month window the device remains attached to the car. That means between 400 and 1,200 people may try to drive drunk in that time. Of those drivers, about 1 percent to 3 percent may become involved in a car crash if they didn’t have the device on their vehicles. That equals four to 12 crashes that may result in injuries, he explained. “What we’re talking about is pouring $18 million to $36 million into five or six licensed (BAIID) providers for a problem that covers about 1 to 3 percent of the people previously arrested for a DUI,” he said. Previously someone could get court supervision once every 10 years for either driving on a license suspended for DUI or for driving on a license revoked because of DUI. Both were Class A misdemeanors. Now, the new law makes driving with a suspended license a Class 4 felony, while driving on a revoked license remains a misdemeanor and supervision remains an option every 10 years. If violations are found on the device when it is monitored, the offender’s suspension may be extended by three-month increments or eventually canceled. Also, the device doesn’t test for marijuana, for example, just alcohol. But if someone is arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana and their license is suspended, they still have to get the machine to drive, McKinney said. “It’s so early in the program, I don’t know how it’s going to work,” said Brookfield Deputy Police Chief Jeff Leh. “In theory, I think it’s great. Some people never learn. (After convictions) it doesn’t stop them from driving (drunk). I don’t think you can just have somebody blow into it and you’re on your way. If the technology is anything like the (breathalyzer) machines we have, those are very sophisticated.” If successful, there may be fewer drunken-driving fatalities, he said.

2008-2009 Illinois DUI Penalties Chart (For offenses after June 1, 2008)

Visit Americas Top DUI and DWI Attorneys at www.1800dialdui.com or call 1-800-DIAL-DUI to find a DUI OUI DWI Attorney Lawyer Now! 2008-2009 Illinois DUI Penalties Chart (For offenses after June 1, 2008) First Offense Class A Misdemeanor Court Supervision up to 2 years DUI Tech Fee $500.00 Fines of 0-2,500.00 BAC > .16 or greater Mandatory 100 hours community service Mandatory Minimum fine of $500.00 Passenger < under16 years old Subject to 6 months jail or 25 days community service in a program benefitting children Mandatory minimum $1000 fine Up to maximum fine of $2,500.00 If Bodily Harm to Passenger under 16, Class 4 felony, min $2,500.00 to max $25,000.00 plus 25 days community service in a program benefitting children and Mandatory minimum 10 days jail or 480 hours community service [11-501(d)(3)] If suspended, revoked, or no license or no insurance, then Class 4 felony 1-3 years imprisonment or Probation up to 30 months and Mandatory minimum 10 days jail or 480 hours community service [11-501(d)(3)] If driving School Bus with pass < 18, Class 4 felony If driving in a school zone with limit of 20 mph in effect and accident with bodily harm other than great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement Class 4 felony 1-3 years imprisonment or Probation up to 30 months and Mandatory minimum 10 days jail or 480 hours community service [11-501(d)(3)] If Great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement Class 4 felony 1-12 years imprisonment or Probation up to 30 months and Mandatory minimum 10 days jail or 480 hours community service [11-501(d)(3)] and Minimum fine $2,500.00 Second Offense Class A Misdemeanor No Court Supervision - Mandatory Conviction Revocation of Driving Privileges Mandatory 5 days jail or 240 hours community service DUI technology Fee of $1,000.00 Fines of up to $2,500.00 If 2d DUI and prior reckless homicide, then Class 4 felony If BAC >.16 Add additional 2 days jail to above penalties Mandatory minimum fine of $1250.00 If Passenger < 16 years old Class 2 felony 3-7 years imprisonment or probation up to 48 months §11-501(d)(1)(K) and (I) and min $2500.00 plus 25 days community service in a program benefitting children §11-501(d)(1)(K) and (I) and Mandatory minimum 10 days jail or 480 hours community service [11-501(d)(3)] If Bodily Harm to Passenger under 16, Class 2 felony 3-7 years imprisonment or probation up to 48 months §11-501(d)(1)(K) and (I), and min $5000.00 to max $25,000.00 plus 25 days community service in a program benefitting children and Mandatory minimum 10 days jail or 480 hours community service [11-501(d)(3)] If Great bodily harm, disability or disfigurement to any person Class 4 felony, from probation to 1-12 years imprisonment Minimum fine of $5000.00 plus 25 days community service in a program benefitting children (any bodily harm per 11-501(d)(1)(K and I) Mandatory minimum 10 days jail or 480 hours community service 11-501(d)(3) If suspended, revoked, , or no insurance, then Class 4 felony 1-3 years imprisonment or Probation up to 30 months and Mandatory minimum 10 days jail or 480 hours community service 11-501(d)(3) If accident with great bodily harm Class 4 felony 1-3 years imprisonment or Probation up to 30 months and Mandatory minimum 10 days jail or 480 hours community service 11-501(d)(3) Minimum fine $5,000.00 Third Offense Class 2 Felony 3-7 years imprisonment or Probation up to 48 months, and Mandatory minimum 10 days jail or 480 hours community service DUI Tech fee $1,000.00 Fines up to max $25,000.00 If BAC > .16 Mandatory 90 days jail and Mandatory minimum fine of $2500.00 If passenger < 16 years old Mandatory minimum fine of $25,000.00 and Mandatory 25 days community service in a program benefitting children If Great bodily harm, disability or disfigurement Class 2 felony, from 480 community service to 1-12 years imprisonment (note: combining 1-12 years great bodily harm requirement; if any jail then must be minimum 1 year) Fourth Offense Class 2 Felony non-probationable 3-7 years imprisonment and DUI Tech fee $1,000.00 Maximum fine of $25,000.00 If BAC > .16 Mandatory Minimum fine is $5,000.00 If passenger < 16 years old Minimum fine $25,000.00 and Mandatory 25 days community service in a program benefitting children If Great bodily harm, disability or disfigurement Class 2 felony, from 480 community service to 1-12 years imprisonment (note: combining 1-12 years great bodily harm requirement) Fifth Offense Class 1 non-probationable 4-15 years imprisonment DUI Tech fee $1,000.00 Fine up to $25,000.00 If BAC >.16 Mandatory Minimum fine $5000.00 If passenger < 16 years Minimum fine $25,000.00 and Mandatory 25 days community service in a program benefitting children Sixth Offense Class X felony non-probationable 6-30 years imprisonment DUI Tech fee $1,000.00 Fine up to $25,000.00 If BAC >.16 Minimum fine $5000.00 If passenger < 16 years Minimum fine $25,000.00 and Mandatory 25 days community service in a program benefitting children DUI Death If violation of DUI proximately causes death to another Class 2 felony Minimum is probation, or 3-14 years for one death Minimum probation to 6-28 years for 2 or more deaths Judge must find extraordinary circumstances to award probation