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New Ignition Interlock Law in Illinois

A conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) in Illinois can result in serious consequences. Now, however, individuals who are just arrested for DUI in Illinois for their first offense face serious penalties. A new Illinois DUI law, one of the toughest in the United States, took effect on January 1, 2009. Under the new law, first-time offenders who are arrested for DUI must install and pay for a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) on their vehicles if they want to drive during the time of their Statutory Summary Suspension (SSS). The new law also increases the SSS period for first offenders. People who refuse to take a breath test when they are pulled over face a suspension time of 12 months (up from six) and people who do take a breath test and fail it face a six-month suspension (up from three months).

What is a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID)?

The BAIID is a device that is installed in a car's ignition. Before the car will start, the driver must blow into the BAIID to test the blood alcohol content to ensure that the driver isn't drunk before driving. The car will not start if the BAIID registers a blood alcohol level of .025 or higher (the legal limit in Illinois is .08). The driver must give breath samples throughout the trip so he or she cannot get around the BAIID by having someone else blow into the device.

While the use of BAIIDs may indeed curtail drunk driving, there may be some potential problems with the use of the device. One problem is the possibility of the ignition interlock device recording a false positive. Mouthwash may contain alcohol and if a person uses mouthwash before using the BAIID, the device may detect alcohol. In addition, some baked goods that contain sugar and yeast may cause the BAIID to detect a low alcohol level. Because of this, people who have used mouthwash or eaten baked goods may want to rinse their mouths out with water and wait for a short period of time (15 minutes or so) before blowing into the BAIID. There is also a possibility of the device malfunctioning for other reasons. In addition, if the person using the BAIID shares a car with a spouse or someone else, that other person will need to not only know how to use the device, but use it as well.

Another issue is the cost. Offenders must pay for BAIID installation (about $100 paid to a certified BAIID vendor); a monthly rental fee for the device (about $80 paid to a vendor); and a monthly monitoring fee ($30 paid to the Secretary of State). If an offender wants to participate in the Monitoring Device Driving Permit program, but cannot afford to pay for the BAIID, there will be a fund for indigent individuals that might cover the costs.

Monitoring Device Driving Permit

A Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP) is a replacement for the Judicial Driving Permit (JDP). First-time offenders arrested under the new law can ask the courts for a MDDP so that the offender can drive. Participation in the MDDP program is not mandatory, but without a MDDP, people arrested for DUI cannot drive during the SSS time period. With a MDDP, a first-time offender can drive anywhere at any time after the first 30 days of the SSS period have passed, so long as the BAIID has been installed on his or her car. It is a Class 4 felony for a person with a MDDP to drive without a BAIID during the SSS period. Offenders are not eligible for a MDDP if their drivers' licenses were invalid, there was great bodily harm as the result of their DUI or they were convicted of reckless homicide or aggravated DUI that resulted in a death in the past.

The Illinois Secretary of State monitors BAIIDs for as long as required to maintain the MDDP. If a violation of the BAIID is detected, the offender may have the SSS period extended for an additional period of time or the MDDP could be cancelled.

*article courtesy of The Law Offices of Thomas Glasgow, Ltd.

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