New Year Brings Major Changes to Illinois DUI Law

by John D. Ioakimidis, Esq,

The new year will bring some pretty significant changes to the Illinois DUI laws. The changes have the support of anti-DUI activists and criminal defense attorneys.  But to get everybody on board, the law contains things that make everyone happy.  First, let’s talk about the changes which will affect the fewest number of drivers.  Here’s the changes:

– If you have been convicted of 2 or more DUI’s, you will be required to have a Restrictive Driving Permit for five years before you can have a full license reinstatement.

– In order to have your license reinstated, you must have a Restrictive Driving Permit (RDP) and a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAID) for five continuous years.

– If you have four or more DUI convictions you can apply for a RDP with the Illinois Secretary of State five years after your most recent revocation began or your most recent prison sentence ended (whichever is latest).  In order to get a Restrictive Driving Permit you must request a formal hearing before the Illinois Secretary of State and demonstrate that you completed your alcohol treatment and have not had any alcohol in 3 years.  If the RDP is granted you will have to use a BAID.  If you are caught driving without a BAID your RDP will be revoked forever and you will not be allowed to ever have your license reinstated.

– If you no longer live in Illinois and you have four or more DUI convictions, you can petition the Secretary of State to terminate the revocation ten years after the most recent license revocation.  But if you ever move back to Illinois your license will be revoked again and you will have to start the process of getting an RDP from the beginning and demonstrate all the things stated in the above-paragraph.

Now let’s talk about the biggest change to the Illinois DUI law.  This change will affect almost everyone that is charged with a DUI in Illinois.  The changes now allow for a driver charged with a DUI to legally drive from day one of the Statutory Summary Suspension.  Under the current law, which will be replaced by the new law on January 1, 2016, if you were arrested for a DUI, and it was your first offense, your license would be suspended for 6 months if you failed a breath test or 12 months if you refused a breath test.  The suspension would take effect 46 days after you were arrested.  You could arrange to have a BAID installed in your vehicle which would allow you to drive during the period of your Statutory Summary Suspension.  However, the BAID could not be installed on your vehicle until at least 30 days had passed.  So even if you arranged to have a BAID device on your car, you had to serve a 30 day suspension of your license, unless you had won a Statutory Summary Suspension hearing and had the suspension of your license revoked. Under the 2016 changes, you can have a BAID device installed in your vehicle immediately so that you can begin driving your vehicle on the 46th day after your arrest.  In other words, you no longer have to serve the 30 day suspension.

So while the changes contain things that help defendants, it also contains changes that help prosecutors. Starting January 1, 2016, if you are arrested for a DUI you will be required to sign a form in which you acknowledge that you have been warned of the consequences to your driving privileges if you fail a breath test or if you refuse to take a breath test.  This change to the law makes it much more difficult to win a hearing on a Petition to Rescind a Statutory Summary Suspension.  The most common way to win a Petition to Rescind a Statutory Suspension is when the police officer fails to show up for the hearing and the driver testifies that they were never given the Warnings to Motorists.  This change to the law takes away the most common way to win a hearing for a Petition to Rescind a Statutory Summary Suspension.

James Dimeas is an award winning Chicago criminal defense attorney and author with more than 23 years of experience aggressively representing his clients in DUI cases.  If you have a DUI case in Illinois, contact me in Chicago (312-229-5500), DuPage and Kane (630-504-2096) or Lake (847-696-6458) for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal options.

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