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Question of the day

Wednesday, Feb 28, 2007

First, the setup

Even though his drunken driving killed four people, Randy Visor faces no special penalties for driving with his license revoked.

But under a new Illinois House bill, the 34-year-old Aurora man could have been charged with a felony, because his license was revoked for committing reckless homicide.

Visor spent four years in prison after he was convicted in the 1997 drunken-driving crash that took the lives of four people, including three Waubonsie Valley High School students.

In March 2006, Batavia police apprehended him for driving with a revoked license. Under current law, he was charged with a misdemeanor, just like any other people caught driving while their license is revoked.

Rep. Joe Dunn, a Republican who represents the far east side of Aurora and Naperville, now is sponsoring a bill that would upgrade the charge of driving on a revoked license based on a reckless homicide from a misdemeanor to felony. On the first violation, the bill would prohibit reinstating an offender’s driving privileges for at least three years. By the third violation, an offender would have his license revoked for life.

I would assume you support this bill, so that’s not the question. Here’s the question: What other changes to DUI laws could you support? Or do we have enough? Explain

- Posted by Rich Miller        

34 Comments
  1. - Sage Observer - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 9:44 am:

    Any level of intoxication (over 0.2%, say, instead of the 0.8% for adults) by a driver under 21 should result in the license being revoked until the driver is 21, or two years, whichever is longer. That simple change would go a lot further to deter dangerous teen drinking and driving than most other proposals.


  2. - Mr. Ethics - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 10:06 am:

    The DUI laws are already pretty harsh, especially for first offenders. But even with a revoked for life, these people will still drive. They don’t care if they don’t have a license. The punishment should be loss of the vehicle they are driving. Also, Mr. Visor was over 21. Let’s not pick on the teens, they already have zero tolerence going against them.


  3. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 10:10 am:

    Do people who lose their drivers licenses because of DUI actually stop driving? If so, what percentage.

    I think there should be severe monetary penalties (jail is too expensive fot the taxpayers) for individuals found to be driving when they lost their license because of dui. Even if they are not driving drunk this time. If they can’t pay the fine, take the car.


  4. - Not A Drunk Driver - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 10:18 am:

    Hows about rolling them back a little? I’m sure that this is probably not a very popular idea, but I think that drinking and driving laws (NOT DRUNK DRIVING LAWS) have gone to far. I think any person here would be shocked to find out just what thier legal limit is. .08 is rediculously low, about 4 beers over 3 hours for a 165 pund man. And if that man was to get arrested, he’d get the same strongarm treatment, outrageous fines, BS classes that cost an arm and a leg, suspension of license, not to mention having to tell future employers they have a DUI, as if he’d been pounding shots and blew a .18. Drunk driving is a evil, but so are overzealous laws.


  5. - Gene Parmesan - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 10:22 am:

    Let’s get rid of the “safety checkpoints.” These clearly violate our 4th Amendment rights.


  6. - zatoichi - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 10:27 am:

    As if Mr. Visor would stop to think that he did not have a license as he stepped into his car to drive off. People like him simply do not care. Just stop giving DUIs multiple chances particulalry if any accidents/injuries are involved. Make jail longer and stick to it.


  7. - to excessive - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 10:32 am:

    The DUI laws of our State are excessive. It is very easy for our legislators to pick on one particular segment of our society.


  8. - Utility Infielder - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 10:47 am:

    Cassandra is right. Very few stop driving while their license in revoked. Fine the heck out of them instead of jail. Take their money not ours.


  9. - Justice - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 10:47 am:

    Require all people with a DUI to place a magnetic sign, bright orange, on the front and back of the vehicle they are driving for 90-days each time they drive any vehicle. Impound their car and charge $500 to get it back. Spend 24-hours in jail, with bail set at $500 cash. Hit the ego and pocket. Shoot third offenders.


  10. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 10:48 am:

    They are not harsh enough.

    Alderman Doherty thinks he can down a few after a good workout and then drive himself home. I imagine that a lot of others feel the same way. They are a danger to us all.

    I would like to see mandatory jail time (a month in jail) or at least public service (weekends cleaning up roadsides for six months) for first offenders and significant jail time for second offenders (no less than a year).

    When people drink and drive people end up getting killed. If you have had three beers, you have had too many and far too many people don’t know it.

    Moreover, NOT drinking and driving is not a big deal. I personally have a zero tolerance policy. If I do more than sip wine for a toast, my wife gets the keys. It makes the line clear.


  11. - Ghost - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 11:15 am:

    Get rid of the three strikes approach. If you lose your license becasue of a DUI where people were injured, and your caught driving on the suspended license, you lose your license for life. The current appraoch provides a safety net so that those with a suspended license know there is no major penalty if caught. Once you lose your license for life, if you are caught again you should serve mandatory jail time. lets face it, if yah do not have your license, but are not detered from driving, making the period you go without a license is not much of a penalty, after all the lack of the license did not stop you from dirving in the first place. Add real penalties.


  12. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 11:53 am:

    Driving on a suspended or revoked license due to DUI should involve a lot of $ (say 1000 for 1rst offense and 5000 for subsequent offenses) so that it acts like a deterrent. If the person cannot pay, they have to do community service (e.g. highway litter pickup) on weekends (say 6months worth).


  13. - Guy Montag - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 12:34 pm:

    Not meaning to beat a dead horse, but the number of people who drive with suspended licenses after a DUI are staggering.
    Hit their pocketbooks. If they are going to drive while knowing they don’t have a license, if they’re caught, fine them $5,000, or more. Impound the vehicle if they can’t pay. Hell, impound the car anyhow. Charge them another $5,000 to get it back.


  14. - BBpolNut - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 12:35 pm:

    Our Drunk Driving laws are excessive. Most people that drive drunk don’t think or believe they are too drunk to drive therefore the possibility of stiffer penalties is moot. Perhaps we should focus on education and prevention.


  15. - C$ - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 1:01 pm:

    I would like to see DUI laws eliminated altogether. Let’s punish bad driving, not the propensity to be a bad driver. Drinking may impair some drivers to the point that they become reckless drivers. For other drivers, something as mundane as having a conversation with a passenger is enough to make them a reckless driver. Some say certain genders or races are worse drivers than others. Let’s just stop with the guessing, and punish the bad driving, not the propensity to be a bad driver. Some people are perfectly capable of being safe and having a beer on the way home from work. It’s a shame they are prevented from doing so under the current framework.


  16. - pickles!! - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 1:02 pm:

    DUI laws are a tough issue. there is no way you can stop soemone from drinking and getting behind the wheel unless they are in prison. Big fines and revoking licenses is all fine and dandy, but are they stopping druk driving? It doesn’t appear to be working.

    Not sure if tougher laws will help. Illinois appears to be pretty tough on this issue already.


  17. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 1:14 pm:

    Pickles,

    Don’t you think people would give that second beer some thought if they knew it might mean a month in jail or six months of weekends cleaning highways?

    For those of you who don’t think this is an issue, you should spend some time looking at accident photos and speaking with victims. It is sickening. Hearing people like Alderman Doherty try and justify playing basketball and then having three or more beers and then driving is nearly as bad. That guy should be forced to go to the Rehab Institute and speak to people maimed because somebody thought they could have three beers or so and drive home.

    Give up a “right” to have a second drink and find my way home? Speaking from experience, I am happy to do so. One drink and the keys go to my wife. The policy is strictly enforced with my wife and I.

    Don’t want to get arrested for DUI? Don’t have a second beer if you are driving home. Or have a friend drive home. Problem solved.


  18. - archpundit - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 1:42 pm:

    ===. I think any person here would be shocked to find out just what thier legal limit is. .08 is rediculously low, about 4 beers over 3 hours for a 165 pund man.

    Actually to get to .08 it takes 4 beers in one hour. Over three hours it’s 5 beers. This is pretty simple to understand because you process a 12 hour beer in about an hour. The difference being that there is some lag over time.

    I’m far from perfect on this category so I won’t lecture anyone, but impairment starts earlier than people think. I’m guilty of misjudging that too.

    Work has been done on the cost benefit value of targeting drunk driving and some time ago we went well past getting the benefit for the dollar compared to other safety or health issues. That said,the best thing we could do is go after those who get multiple DUIs especially those who get them while their license is still suspended.

    Those are folks with serious drinking problems who are not only a danger to themselves, but the rest of us.


  19. - Polly Purebread - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 1:43 pm:

    My gosh, I didn’t realize there were so many people that have never made the mistake of getting behind the wheel of a car after having a few too many drinks. I believe in DUI laws, especially for repeat offenders, but some of you people are ridiculous. Why don’t you line ‘em up and kill ‘em instead, those dirty no good so and so’s. I’m glad you’ve never made a mistake, I don’t think you could live with yourselves!

    The DUI laws for first time offenders seem to be a bit harsh. The shame, embarrassment, fines and attorney fees will make MOST people think twice about doing it again. Have I had a DUI? Nope, but for the people that have, by the grace of God go I. I do know several people that have and believe me, most have learned their lesson. With age comes wisdom and I would never dream of getting behind the wheel of a car when I’ve been drinking, but in my youth, that was a different story and that does NOT make me a bad person.

    Giving people higher fines is not a solution, it will just fill up jails even more then they are. How many 21 year olds do you know that would be able to afford a hefty fine? They’d end up serving time in jail instead anyway. That’s a smart solution…..NOT!


  20. - Gregor - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 1:56 pm:

    Caught driving on a revoked license: Straight to jail until a hearing, immediately impound the car and, upon having the hearing, sell it at public auction, the money to go to awareness and victim reimbursement programs as well as program expenses.

    “But judge, that was not my car, it was my friend’s (or relative’s) car”.

    “Was” is exactly right.

    We can’t put a cop on every driveway, but if we punish by seizing the vehicle, no matter what hardship complaints that brings, his “friends” or relatives will not risk losing their car by giving the revoked drunk the keys. Let’s put the enablers of this guy to work enforcing the law. You as a car owner have a responsibility for operating that vehicle safely, as well as making sure anybody else driving your vehicle operates it safely. Ignore that obligation to public safety, lose the car.

    The offender has already had his warnings and due process the first time, he proves by his actions he doesn’t care about heartfelt public service announcements, face to face with grieving survivors or newspaper essays or anything but physical restraint; it comes down to someone who, through his addiction, lacks the ability to operate in a civilized society under laws.

    Driving suspended or revoked is also contempt of court. Ergo, we take his muderous butt off the street to dry out until a judge can hear him out and figure what else to do with him.


  21. - Gus Frerotte's Clipboard - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 1:59 pm:

    Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car intoxicated is a threat to everybody else on the road — adults, kids, you name it. Clearly, our current laws don’t actually deter people from doing it, because it happens all the time. I once had to take a remedial driving class to reduce the fine on a speeding ticket; everybody else in the class was in for drunk driving, and they all said they’d do it again (many said they would feel comfortable driving after drinking 6-7 beers in one hour — I was terrified).

    Government should not be in the business of protecting people from themselves. If people want to drink, smoke, eat too many trans fats, whatever, well, that should largely be their own business. But government is responsible for protecting people from each other. Drunk driving and public smoking take what could be private enjoyments and inflict danger on unwilling victims — and in the case of drunk driving, the victims (or potential victims) are often unaware of the crisis until it’s too late. The penalties should absolutely be strengthened, so that people don’t think of it as one of those little things they can get away with, as they do now.


  22. - Illinois Eddie - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 2:21 pm:

    My State Rep, Ed Sullivan, had a DUI in 2004 and had his license revoked. I’d like to see how he would vote.


  23. - Squideshi - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 2:35 pm:

    Stop making people attend Twelve Step programs! Not only are these programs ineffective, but research shows that they may actually be harmful to the addict. An urban mythology has grown up around these religious programs; but when tested, they do not work. Instead, send addicts to scientifically prooven, evidence-based programs, like Smart Recovery.


  24. - pickles!! - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 2:45 pm:

    Gregor has the best idea. Start revoking cars as well as licenses. Repeat offenses maybe should be handled much more harshly then they are.

    People get confused by the .08 thing becasue it differs for each person. I may have 3 beers in an hour and be .08, but another perosn may be able to push the limit and have 5 or 6, and jsut be at the legal limit. The issue is more about alcohol consuption then driving.


  25. - Ghost - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 3:29 pm:

    Keep in mind I distinguish penalties between DUI….and DUI where you injure or kill somone else. If you injure or kill somone, and the penalty is you lose your license, then ignoring that penalty needs very substantive penalties. Not just more revocation, not just fines or civil service, remove the driving privilege forever. Followup future violations for jail time. The decision to drive while revoked is not the same as misjudging how much you have had to drink, it is a conscious decision to ignore a penalty. Givent that this scenrio arises only after you have injured or killed somone, any I did not know how trashed I was discussion falls away. Once you harm others your done.


  26. - So Blue Democrat - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 6:04 pm:

    There should be zero tolerance for individuals who drink and drive. With the first offense, driver’s licenses should be revoked for 5 years, and if they are caught driving while the license is revoked, their license should be revoked for life. Most deadly accidents are caused by people drinking and driving. I ofen enjoy drinking; however, I do it at home or have somone not drinking take me home.


  27. - Huh? - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 6:31 pm:

    When I worked at IDOT, as I recall, if I got stopped for a DUI and lost my license, I would get an automatic 90 suspension. It didn’t matter if I was in my own vehicle or in a state owned vehicle. 90 day suspension - Do Not Pass Go - Go directly home without the pay check.

    The fear that I would get a 90 day unpaid vacation kept me from driving under the influence. I don’t know about anybody else, but I couldn’t afford losing 1/4 of my income.

    Taking licenses and leaving the car is not an effective way to curb DUI. Take the car, heavily fine people. Fine the owner if they loan a car that is used in a DUI crash and then take the car.

    Hitting people in the pocket book should make people take notice. Hit hard on the first offense. Hit progressively harder for each offense there after. Don’t allow the fine to be waived in a bankruptcy proceeding.

    Driving while impaired, whether DUI, talking on a cell phone, reading the newspaper (I have seen it!), being drowsy are all leading causes of crashes. I have read too many police crash reports where the crash was avoidable, if only the person didn’t reach for the cell phone on the floor or wasn’t drunk.

    Highway fatalities is a CDC public health issue. Around 44,000 fatalities occurred over each of the past 6 years all due to highway crashes.

    Please notice that I am using the word crash instead of accident. A crash is a statement of fact. An accident implies that there were outside influences, such as an Act of God.

    Highway engineers can design fool proof roads. We just can’t design them damn fool proof. And it is the damn fools that give us the most head aches.

    So here is a safe driving request for today. Please drive the speed limit. Don’t tail gate. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Get home safely. Have that drink while sitting on the sofa watching television.


  28. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 7:13 pm:

    Some additional informed thought would be helpful here. I’m certainly not a source for all of it.

    Point one, and this is absolute, the harsher the penalty (beyond a certain reasonable point) the lower the conviction rate. Impose a mandatory death penalty for DUI and you will convict virtually no one.

    Point two. The great proportion of people driving on licenses suspended or revoked for DUI aren’t people who got convicted once (or even twice) for blowing .09. They are people who are convicted repeatedly for driving with very high blood alcohol levels. Until we find a proper way to discriminate between jaywalkers and serial killers, we won’t get satisfactory results from a punitive approach.

    This is a tough one, for a variety of reasons. Back when I worked for SoS, on this issue any time people felt we were going too far, we knew we only had to wait a month or so and the headlines will give us another poster child case. However, I don’t think we or anyone else ever came up with the right strategy for the willful, repeated, serious offender. Nothing short of putting them in jail stops them from driving, and I doubt that juries are going to send people to jail for 5 or10 years for repeated DUI/driving while suspended or revoked cases that don’t involve fatalities. So, at this point I believe we are destined to wait for succesful action until someone commits the fatal error, which in each case is one time too many.


  29. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 8:11 pm:

    There should be very strict and tuff laws for second offense drunks or drug users. Mercy is not he answer, mandatory sentences just like using a weapon in the commission of a crime. To drink and drive is a decision, not an illness.


  30. - uncle sam's blues - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 9:04 pm:

    As is the case with many issues, we don’t need tougher laws, we need to enforce the laws already on the books. Local prosecutors and judges simply don’t have the backbone to enforce the law. Look at how often Madison Co gives supervision to multiple DUI offenders.


  31. - Lose the car vs. lose a life - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 9:05 pm:

    “lose the car”, i.e. car seized and sold, regardless of owner, WILL have an immediate downward effect on the stats. He can’t drive drunk without a car. You won’t risk giving him your car if you know you could lose it. Steve, did they ever consider this angle at SOS and if not why not?


  32. - Jail - Wednesday, Feb 28, 07 @ 10:38 pm:

    I think the laws for first time offenders are fine. It’s the multiple offenders that are the problem they have hurt or killed. If they have Multiple DUI driving under the influence tickets they should go to jail. If they have injured someone in an accident they should go to jail and if further tickets are involved they should go to jail longer. I don’t agree that if penalties are harsh they won’t be used if they are ramped up as the criminals continue to drink and drive then punishment will match the crime. If the States Attorney does not prosecute then they should be invited to leave office by the voters.


  33. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Mar 1, 07 @ 9:02 am:

    Lose:
    Yes we did. There are several problems. One, the car frequently isn’t owned by the driver (or just by the driver), so we would be taking a car from someone who hadn’t committed an offense. Most frequently, it’s the spouse, very frequently the wife, who may not be able to prevent the husband from driving.

    Also, if the offender is married and you take the car, you face the problem of taking away the spouses ability to get to work, kids to child care, etc.

    If repeated serious DUI was an easy issue to fix, all the bright and well intentioned people who care about it would have solved it years ago.


  34. - Squideshi - Thursday, Mar 1, 07 @ 1:54 pm:

    I think that you need to consider that some people who drink and drive may be suffering from an addiction and require treatment.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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