New DUI Law Lets Arrestees Drive — with an Alcohol Detection Device
Amid the traditional holiday crackdown on drunken driving, Illinois will begin a major philosophical shift in how it punishes DUI — a shift that has the unusual support of both defense attorneys and anti-DUI activists.
Starting Jan. 1, Illinois will eliminate the requirement that anyone arrested for DUI must be kept off the roads for at least 30 days.
Instead, in keeping with a national trend, those arrested for DUI will be allowed to continue driving so long as they install special breath-measuring devices in their vehicles to ensure they haven’t been drinking.
“It’s a win-win for everybody to make sure that a person is driving legally and has insurance,” said Rita Kreslin, of the Schaumburg-based advocacy group Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists.
In the decades-long debate over proper punishment for DUI, the new law removes a type of punishment that has been a flashpoint in that debate.
For a generation, anti-DUI activists pushed through and defended measures to mandate first-time arrestees be taken off the roads for at least 30 days, with longer periods for repeat offenders. The suspensions — which start on the 46th day after a DUI arrest — are handled apart from a court process activists often have complained is laden with lenient plea deals.
But defense attorneys have argued that the suspensions are counterproductive: People needed to drive to keep jobs and ferry kids, so many of those facing DUI charges drive illegally, without insurance or oversight. And Tribune investigations found that others often stay on the road legally, helped by some prosecutors willing to cut plea deals that toss the suspensions in exchange for hefty fines.
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