Stricter drunken driving rule now law in Illinois

| 9/5/2007

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a bill into law that gets tough with drunken drivers in the state.

The legal definition of drunken driving in the state is a blood alcohol content reading of 0.08 percent or higher.

The new law, previously SB300, requires judges to issue restricted licenses to anyone convicted of driving under the influence. The stricter rule applies to first-time offenders. The restricted license allows violators to drive only vehicles equipped with breath-testing ignition interlocks.

The interlock is hooked up to the ignition of vehicles. Once the device is installed, a driver must blow into a mouthpiece, which measures the amount of alcohol on a person’s breath. If the driver blows clean, the car will then start; if not, it won’t budge.

In addition, the devices often require drivers to re-blow in the machine after a designated period of time, to ensure that they have not convinced someone else to blow into the mouthpiece for them, or that they haven’t been drinking since getting behind the wheel.

Nearly 20 states have similar rules.

Supporters say the stricter rules are needed because not all DUI offenders change their behavior after being caught. They also say it sends a strong message to first-time offenders.

Opponents say it’s unfair to lump together all DUI offenders into one class.

The new law doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2009.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Illinois in 2007, click here.