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Recent DUI prevention measures shown to be of questionable effectiveness

To much fanfare, in 2009 Illinois instituted a DUI prevention program. Its publicly stated purpose was to prevent drunk driving.

Under the Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP), if you are an Illinois driver arrested for DUI, your license will be suspended for 6 to 12 months if you have not been arrested for DUI in the previous 5 years. During all but the first 30 days of the suspension, you are entitled to an MDDP.

The MDDP allows you to drive for any purpose. However, at your expense, you must have a device installed in your vehicle’s ignition and blow into a tube in order to start your vehicle.

The Illinois Secretary of State receives a fee for administering the program, as do the providers of the devices. Therefore, the providers and the Secretary of State had a financial interest in seeing that this program was put in place and continue to profit from keeping it going and maximizing its usage. Under current law, installation of the device is optional.

The assertion by advocates of the MDDP program that it has been successful, as evidenced by both its level of usage (6,500 devices installed in 2009) and reductions in fatal accidents, is questionable. They credit the program with reducing the number of fatalities, ignoring the impact of the recession and the corresponding reduction in miles driven. (These are the same folks who have brought us highly questionable claims of how often a person drives under the influence without being caught).

Those who promoted the program were only able to sign up 6,500 users. They were expecting 25,000 to 30,000. Several theories have been advanced to explain this result.

Because of the disappointing MDDP numbers, the lobby that represents the manufacturers of the MDDP devices has imposed its will upon the Illinois General Assembly. You can expect that as a result of proposed Senate Bill 3775, it will become more of an effort, and entail additional expenses, to decline the MDDP.

As the law now stands, unless you request an MDDP, you are considered to have declined it, a decision that costs you nothing. Under the new law, you will be required to take affirmative action to decline the MDDP and doing so will result in your having to pay an “administrative fee” to the Secretary of State.

Meanwhile, the son of John Cullerton, the Illlinois Senate President who sponsored MDDP and other DUI-related crackdowns, was recently arrested for DUI. According to his father’s office, the younger Cullerton had stolen a state car issued to his father. Senator Cullerton will experience nearly first hand what it is like to live under the laws he has been so instrumental in passing.

The fact of the matter is, the Secretary of State, MADD and the MDDP providers have powerful lobbies. Your only protection is an experienced Illinois DUI lawyer.

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