Now enacted and effective January 1, 2016, House Bill 1446 amends various elements of the Illinois Vehicle Code pertaining to restricted driving permits and revocations of driver’s licenses.1 The new law strikes the portion of 625 ILCS 5/6-205 (c)(1) which made multiple offenders, those with four or more DUI related offenses, ineligible to receive restricted driving permits. Within the newly added sub-section (c)(1.5), the law now allows a person with four or more DUI related offenses the opportunity to apply with the Secretary of State for a restricted driving permit.
The requirements to qualify for a restricted driving permit are as follows: (1) a person may apply only after five years from the most recent license revocation, or after five years from being released from imprisonment, whichever is later; (2) the person must prove a minimum of three years of uninterrupted abstinence from alcohol, cannabis, methamphetamine, and intoxicating compounds; and, (3) the person must successfully complete any rehabilitative treatment, and be involved in any ongoing rehabilitative activity, recommended by a properly licensed service provider.2 Each requirement must be shown by clear and convincing evidence. The Secretary of State is also allowed to consider any relevant evidence to determine whether or not an applicant should be granted a restricted driving permit. This includes any relevant testimony, affidavits, records, and results from periodic alcohol and drug testing. There are some conditions to acquiring a restricted driving permit. First, any person who obtains a restricted driving permit will have to install, pay for, and maintain an ignition interlock device on any vehicle that he or she plans on driving.
If a person who has a restricted driving permit operates an unequipped vehicle, it is a Class 4 felony and the Secretary of State may revoke the permit. Also, any person who is subsequently convicted of another DUI related offense will have the permit revoked and will be permanently barred from applying for another restricted driving permit. Finally, a person will not be eligible to apply for a restricted driving permit if there are four prior DUI related offenses and a conviction of more than one violation of driving under the influence of drugs or an intoxicating compound.
There are several lingering questions about the new statute. One is whether an applicant, who demonstrates that over the past three years the person has passed all required drug tests at work, fulfills the requirement of clear and convincing evidence of “uninterrupted” abstinence from drugs. How might abstinence be proven outside of a work-related context; will an affidavit from the applicant be enough to demonstrate compliance with the requirement, or might additional sources of evidence be required? Further, how frequently must an applicant have been tested to demonstrate compliance with the abstinence provision? Another may center on the kinds of evidence used to show uninterrupted abstinence from alcohol. Will the requirement of successful completion and ongoing participation in a rehabilitative program alone be enough to satisfy “uninterrupted” abstinence from alcohol?
With all of these unanswered questions, it seems that only time will tell what awaits the application of this new law. The new law will allow the roughly 5,000 people in Illinois with four or more DUI related offenses the opportunity to legally drive again.3 However, the requirements to obtain a restricted driving permit under the new law are strict, and it remains to be seen how many people will apply for, let alone receive, a permit under the new law.
1. P.A. 99-290.
2. Id. (See amended changes at 625 ILCS § 5/6-205 (c)(1.5)).
3. Tim Novak, The Watchdogs: Despite 4 DUI convictions, 5,085 Illinois drivers could be back on road –legally, Chicago Sun-Times (Sept. 20, 2015, 8:00pm), http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/944964/dui-convictions-5085-back-illinois-roads-legally.
Matthew Cole is a second year law student at Northern Illinois University College of Law. He attended undergraduate school at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in political science.