SPRINGFIELD — Two bills that would affect motorists with repeat drunken driving convictions are awaiting votes in the Illinois House.
One measure would require offenders with at least two convictions to participate for at least five years in the state's Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device, or BAIID, program before their drivers' license can be reinstated. The program requires offenders to blow into a tube that measures blood alcohol levels before they can start their cars.
Currently offenders can apply after waiting for the license suspension to lapse without having to install the device.
The legislation was inspired by a 17-year-old Caitlin Weese of Elgin, who was killed in a drunken driving crash in 2003. Her stepfather, Joel Mains, teamed with state Rep. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, whom he ran against as a Democrat and lost in November election.
"It makes sense to keep the BAIID machine on someone who gets a restricted driver's license to help promote their recovery," Wheeler told The (Springfield) State Journal-Register.
Illinois Secretary of State's Office spokesman Henry Haupt said the office supports the proposal. Illinois started the BAIID program in 1994 and expanded it in 2009. Haupt said that 55,000 devices have been installed since 2009 and he credits them with a decline in DUIs in Illinois.
The other measure would allow offenders with four or more drunken driving convictions the chance to get a restricted driving permit. Those who apply must prove they are alcohol and drug free for at least three years and have the ignition devices installed in their vehicles. Currently drivers with four or more DUIs have their licenses revoked for life.
"This is an attempt to allow people who have redeemed themselves to move on with their lives," said bill sponsor state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat. Her bill has support from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
The secretary of state's office remains neutral on the bill, Haupt said. Neither of the proposals has passed the Senate, and they would also require Gov. Bruce Rauner's signature to become law.