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Dodging DUIs: Secretary of State Candidates Faceoff

Amanda Vinicky

How to keep drunk drivers off the roads has become an issue in the race for Secretary of State.

Illinois has strict DUI laws ... if you're convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Therein lies the problem, says Republican's nominee for Secretary of State Mike Webster: once someone has been arrested, the legal system takes over.

"It's a system that can be manipulated if you have the right attorney, if you have enough money. And if you can know the right people to plead out your crime, if you will, your charge to something lesser, and immediately get back behind the wheel of a car," he said.

The Chicago Tribune in September published an investigative report showing how often many suburban drivers get plea deals.

Webster, an attorney and accountant from Hinsdale, says Illinois' longtime Sec. of State, Jesse White, hasn't used his office to do anything about it.

"The problem really is not with me, the problem is with some of the municipalities," White said. "When the State's Attorney is involved with handling DUI cases, we get a bigger bang for the buck. But when you turn those responsibilities over to the municipal lawyers and of course .. the municipalities, then sometimes a lot of these individuals don't spend a day on the road. They pay the fine and they're back on the road, creating havoc."

That's White, who says if reelected, he will reestablish a task force to deal with the situation. White, a Democrat, also says he's behind a law that calls for longer license suspensions if a driver refuses to blow into a breathalyzer, "so I am doing something about it," he said.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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