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Illinois Drivers Could Get Additional Chance To Drive After Convictions


  Illinois law says after four DUI convictions, that person can never drive again, not even if his or her offenses are long in the past. But one lawmaker wants to give people who've gotten their lives together another chance drive.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) says her bill was inspired by a constituent who had several DUIs in the past, but has been sober for years.

“He couldn’t drive at all, even though he’d really turned his life around," she said. "This is an effort to try to give those who have truly gotten their lives in order an opportunity to be productive citizens by being able to drive to and from work.”

About 12,000 drivers in Illinois use what’s called a restricted driving permit. Some of these drivers can only take limited trips, like to work or to drop a child off at school. And they have to pass a breath test for their car to start. But currently, these permits are only available to people with three or fewer serious traffic convictions.

Tom Speedie is a lawyer who handles a lot of DUI cases. He says it's safer to have these drivers regulated with a permit, rather than risking them driving illegally.

"There's a lot of places in the state that not having a drivers license is going to keep you from being a productive member of society," he said.

This population of drivers would have to wait five years after their last day of rehab or imprisonment -- whichever is longer. Then they could apply for a hearing from the Secretary of State’s office. If the permit is granted, a judge would decide where a driver can and cannot go.

Hannah covers state government and politics for Capitol News Illinois. She's been dedicated to the statehouse beat since interning at NPR Illinois in 2014, with subsequent stops at WILL-AM/FM, Law360, Capitol Fax and The Daily Line before returning to NPR Illinois in 2020 and moving to CNI in 2023.
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