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Illinois bill seeks to reduce penalty for drunk driving to make roads safer

| May 4, 2014 | Motor Vehicle Accident

Motorists in Illinois rely upon other drivers every day to make safety decisions that have the potential to significantly alter their lives. Motorists fail to live up to the expectation of mutual safety when they drive under the infulence.    Despite the clear danger presented by drunk drivers, Illinois lawmakers are seeking to relax the punishments they face when they become repeat offenders.

A new bill, proposed and passed by members of the House but still facing approval in the Senate, would allow drivers with four DUIs the opportunity to apply for restricted drivers permits. The current law only allows three-time offenders to apply.  Other provisions and rules would be applicable as well, such as restricted driving times, restricted locations like work and church, and permanent installation of a breathalyzer in their car. It also calls for a waiting period of five years after their last conviction and proof of three continuous years of sobriety before offenders can complete the application for a drivers permit.

Drunk driving statistics

Across the U.S., people take 233 billion car trips every year. Of these trips, one out of every 2000 is taken by a driver under the influence of alcohol.  Those trips result in death, for the drunk drivers or their victims, about once every 53 minutes. Injuries due to drunk driving occur once every 90 seconds. Mothers Against Drunk Driving found that in 2012, the state of Illinois alone suffered 321 deaths as the result of drunk driving, which represents 34 percent of total traffic deaths in the state.

Repeat offenders continue to make up a large proportion of the problem, with one third of all offenses, including crashes, deaths, injuries and arrests, committed by individuals who have previously been arrested for DUI. MADD estimates that at any given time, drivers share the roads with 2 million offenders who have been cited for DUI three or more times.

Opposition to the bill

Many voices have come out in opposition to the proposed legislation. Some argue that the nature of alcoholism as a compulsive addiction lends itself to repeated abuse.  They believe that individuals who prove that they are unable to handle the addiction on their own should be prohibited from driving using the current laws, where permits are only offered to individuals with three or fewer DUIs.

Dealing with the results of a drunk driving accident can be overwhelming and difficult for victims to handle alone. People seeking advice on how to handle their matter should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in Illinois about their case.