Repeat drunk drivers need harsher penalties, Illinois police chief says

DUIWhile Illinois enforces certain DUI laws, such as mandatory ignition interlock devices for all drunk driving offenders, law enforcement officials believe that stricter DUI penalties may be in order to reduce the number of DUI car accidents that occur each year. Many parts of the state have been inundated with repeat drunk drivers. To combat this problem, an Illinois police chief argues that the state must take swift action and hold drunk drivers responsible for their actions.

A look at current Illinois DUI laws for repeat offenders

According to Illinois statute, drivers who are convicted of two DUI offenses may face up to one year in prison, pay up to $2,500 in fines and use an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. They may also have their driver’s license suspended for a minimum of five years. People who are convicted of three DUIs may spend up to seven years in prison and have their driver’s license suspended for a minimum of 10 years in addition to the other drunk driving penalties.

If a driver is convicted of three DUIs in Illinois, they may not necessarily be held to the state’s DUI penalties under current law, according to Chicago CBS local news. The judge presiding over the case is able to use his or her discretion during the sentencing process, and may opt to order probation as an alternative to the previously mentioned penalties. A Riverside police chief suggests that DUI penalties should be automatic, rather than left up to a judges’ discretion. This can be achieved if a habitual offender statute is created, making repeat DUI offenses a felony.

The repeat offender epidemic in Illinois

According to Chicago CBS local news, a Riverside man was recently arrested for his fourth DUI, and has had his driver’s license revoked for drunk driving seven times before that. When the officer pulled him over, the man confessed that he was returning from a DUI counseling session that was court-ordered from a previous DUI charge. Fortunately, the officer stopped the man, who was speeding and weaving through traffic, before he caused a devastating car accident.

Another man in Elgin was arrested for his fifth DUI, and was found to have 10 past convictions for driving while license is revoked or suspended. The Daily Herald reported that the man was found smelling of alcohol during a roadside safety check. After further inspection, officers found open bottles in the vehicle.

At least 10 percent of all motorists on Riverside roads on Friday nights between the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. are intoxicated, according to the police chief. Although officers are on the lookout for impaired drivers, some drunk drivers end up causing severe car accidents, resulting in the death or injury of innocent people. A Chicago personal injury attorney can be helpful to people who have been injured or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident.