Groups At Odds Over Proposed DUI Bill

Repeat DUIA proposed bill that would allow individuals with four DUI convictions to obtain a driver’s license to help them get to and from work has been met with support and apprehension from legislators and anti-drunk driving groups.

The bill is being championed by Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, who said her redemption bill would only give work-driving permits to individuals who have truly turned their life around. She said she was moved when a local man came to her with a plea for help.

“I listened to his story. I went with him to his AA facility, and he proved to me that he turned his life around,” said Nekritz. “How do you look someone in the eye and say ‘no’ to that? How do you say ‘no’ to a man who has changed and is just trying to be a better person? I couldn’t.”

Strict Guidelines

In order to make sure the individual is truly reformed, the bill calls for stringent conditions that must be followed in order to re-apply for a work-driving permit. A person with four DUIs must:

  • Wait five years from the date of the last DUI conviction;
  • Complete rehabilitation successfully;
  • Test sober and drug free for at least three years; and
  • Appeal to the secretary of state for the permit.

Again, the bill would only reinstate partial driving privileges. Drivers would only be allowed to drive between their home and their place of employment, and their vehicle would be outfitted with an ignition interlock device that would prevent the person from driving if alcohol is detected on their breath.

Not All In Favor

Not surprisingly, some government officials and advocacy groups are against the proposal.

“If I was in the legislature, I would vote against it. If I was the governor, I would veto it,” said former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar. “My feeling is, if a person has had four DUIs, that’s a real serious problem. After the fourth, and letting that person drive again, it poses a risk for society. Four is a lot of convictions.”

The proposal is also being met with resistance from the anti-drunk driving group Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“The current reality is that our highways today are filled with repeat DUI offenders,” said the group’s Illinois executive director. “One DUI is one too many.”

However, the advocacy group Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists is in favor of giving reformed motorists another chance.

“We feel that the goal should be to rehabilitate people,” said Rita Kreslin, the group’s executive director. “If they meet the standards to get this permit, they should be given the chance to prove that they’re going to be driving legally.”

Lt. Donnie Pridemore, who testified in favor of the bill, supported AAIM’s beliefs that as long as the individual follows all the guidelines, they should be able to apply for limited driving rights.

“Some people don’t deserve another chance, but some do,” Pridemore said. “Some people really change, and those are the people who shouldn’t be punished for the rest of their lives.”

Related source: Chicago Tribune