Governor Rauner Signs the New Ignition Interlock Bill, Making Illinois a 5-Star State

5-star-MADD-ratingWhen Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 627, he gave his state a rare distinction. Illinois is the fifth state in the union to earn 5 stars from MADD for its efforts fighting drunk driving.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) tracks every state’s laws and awards stars to those who have put certain measures in place to keep drunk drivers off the roads.

Madd-star-drunk-driving-smNo refusal. Most states now have a “no refusal” law which prevents a driver stopped for DUI from refusing a test to determine his or her BAC (blood alcohol concentration). A refusal usually earns an automatic license suspension.

Madd-star-drunk-driving-smChild endangerment. Drunk driving is a crime. Drunk driving with a minor in the vehicle is a much more serious crime: in some states it’s a felony. Child endangerment laws impose more severe penalties on drivers caught drunk with a young person or child in the car.

Madd-star-drunk-driving-smALR. Administrative License Revocation refers to the practice of revoking a drunk driver’s license immediately upon arrest. This is permissible because driving is a privilege, not a right.

Madd-star-drunk-driving-smSobriety Checkpoints. Some states allow police to stop cars and check to see if the driver has been drinking.

Madd-star-drunk-driving-smIgnition Interlocks. These devices, which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking, are known to prevent DUI recidivism. MADD gives a star to states which mandate ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders, including first offenders.

The bill the governor just signed earned Illinois the fifth star: it is designed to increase participation in the state’s ignition interlock program. The law eliminates mandatory “hard” suspensions ( during which an offender is prohibited from driving, but often does), in favor of ignition interlocks. The devices are also required in certain other circumstances, such as if a driver is convicted of driving on a revoked license when that revocation was the result of a fatality.

The upshot of these laws is a very practical gain for Illinois: fewer impaired drivers will be on the roads, simply because the interlock devices won’t let them start their vehicles. By MADD’s lights, Illinois is now a splendid example of how a state should handle drunk driving, and we can’t disagree.