5,000 Convicted Drunken Drivers Could Soon Be Back on Illinois Roads. That’s a Good Thing.

5000 drunken drivers might be eligible to drive in illinoisNot long ago Governor Rauner signed HB 1446, the Illinois law which allows four-time convicted drunken drivers to take the wheel again, provided they satisfy certain requirements

  • They must have an actual hardship which driving must solve.
  • They must provide proof that they have completed a recognized rehabilitation program.
  • They must show proof that they have been drug- and alcohol-free for 3 years.
  • They must agree to install an ignition interlock, a device which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

The Illinois Secretary of State’s office reveals that more than 5,000 state residents are theoretically eligible for license reinstatement under HB 1446.

Ignition interlock device is a successful anti-DUI technologyWhy is this good news? Don’t we want drunken drivers off the roads? That is, after all, the idea of a lifetime driving ban.

We do want them off the road, but the fact is that license revocations are very blunt instruments for promoting public safety. Many drivers ignore them altogether. And when they do, there’s no guarantee that they won’t be impaired by alcohol.

Offering these drivers a chance to drive again has some benefits.

  • It gives these offenders a chance to get their lives back together in a way that might not have been possible without the mobility that a vehicle provides. A car can open up job and educational opportunities.
  • The ignition interlock stipulation ensures that the driver will not be drinking and driving. In that way, it is superior to licence revocation, which offers no physical preventive measure beyond the offender’s willingness to obey the law.

Not all of these 5,000 people will be qualified to drive under the new law, but some will. And perhaps they will rejoin the community of drivers and abide by the state’s alcohol laws. Kudos to the legislators who sponsored the measure and Governor Rauner for giving them this chance while protecting public safety.