1. Sign-and-Drive: House Approves Keeping Your License After Minor Traffic Offenses
In Illinois, there are many jurisdictions where drivers who commit minor traffic offenses have to turn over their license after the police officer issues a citation. The driver can only get their license back after the ticket has been resolved. Historically, the system was designed so that the driver will not disregard the ticket or skip their assigned court time. It was meant to be a form of bond.
Last month, however, the Illinois House approved a bill that would allow drivers to just sign their citation, keeping their license. This would allow drivers to keep their driver’s license, but the secretary of state’s office will temporarily suspend the license if the driver does not appear in court as required. The “sign-and-drive” program will not be available for DUI offenses. Nonetheless, for many people, keeping their licenses is a significant bonus because it is often their only form of identification.
2. License Reinstatement Shot Down for Fourth DUI Offenders
In May, the Illinois House failed to pass a bill that would allow fourth-time DUI offenders to obtain a driver’s permit. Under current state law, convicted fourth-time DUI offenders lose the right to drive for their rest of their lives. The proposed restricted license would allow the individual to drive to and from work, but would require them to install ignition locks on the vehicle. The ignition locks prevent driving while they are impaired. The individual would only qualify for this program if their license had been taken away for at least five years and they had demonstrated that they have been sober for at least three years. The individual would not be allowed to have more than two DUIs that are drug (not alcohol) related. The individual would appeal directly to the secretary of state for the permit.
The rationale behind the bill is based on rehabilitation. As the executive director of the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists explained: “We feel that the goal should be to rehabilitate people. If they meet the standards to get this permit, they should be given the chance to prove that they are going to be driving legally.” Representative Elaine Nekritz sponsored the bill after meeting with an individual who proved to her that he had rehabilitated and was ready to drive safely, but was not legally allowed to get behind a wheel. Resistance, of course, is based on the seriousness of the offense and concern for overall traffic safety.
3. House Passes Ban on “Ticket Quotas”
A new bill passed in the Illinois House at the end of May that restricts how police officers can deal with the public. In many police departments, officers have “ticket quotas” that require the officers to issue a “specified number of tickets within a specified time frame.” Further, the bill prohibits police departments from evaluating officers’ performance based on the number of citations that they have given.
While police departments cannot have “ticket quotas,” they can evaluate the police officers in other, similar ways. For example, in Belleville, the police department requires that the officers have a certain number of “contacts” with the public. These contacts include interactions such as traffic stops, arrests, written warnings, and crime-prevention. However, the contacts also extend to community outreach activities.
The bill has also passed in the Senate and will now make its way to the governor.