drink driving

Is Illinois’ Interlock Law Lowering Drunk Driving Fatalities?

According to the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Illinois was one of a handful of states leading the nation in enacting an all-offender ignition interlock law. When the legislation took effect at the beginning of 2009, the number of drunk driving fatalities fell. However, since then they have remained between 30 and 34 percent of the total motor vehicle deaths each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Many attorneys who work in a Chicago personal injury law firm understand that Illinois offenders are allowed to choose to install an interlock system rather than having a license suspension. This may be the cause for a low rate of installations, with barely more than 20 percent of those who are eligible opting to use an interlock system.

Potential program weakness

According to information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, MADD conducted a series of institutes around the United States to promote the use of ignition interlock systems. Various state organization and agency representatives were invited to attend sessions to identify weaknesses of interlock programs and actions that could be taken to improve the programs.

According to MADD representatives, Illinois legislators should require harsher restrictions for drivers who opt for the suspended license. They claim that many of these offenders are more likely to continue to drive and become repeat offenders than those who install interlock systems. They point to the success of state programs with higher installation rates such as Wisconsin. All first offenders in that state must install the system.

Repeat offender rates and penalties

An attorney from a Chicago personal injury law firm may support the idea that stricter legislation is necessary. Many are aware of the high level of repeat offenders in Illinois, which were still at 14 percent as of 2013, according to the Illinois DUI Fact Book.

The first conviction for driving with a suspended license may include fines of up to $2,500, 10 days in jail and a license suspension double the first suspension period. In spite of the severity of the penalties for driving after a DUI license suspension, the Illinois DUI Fact Book lists 2,725 revocations for second offenses, 734 for third offenses, and 380 for fourth or subsequent offenses in 2013.

A lawyer at a Chicago personal injury law firm may be able to provide legal representation for victims and family members who suffer from an accident involving a drunk driver. Compensation may be available to cover medical expenses, lost quality of life and wages, and pain and suffering.