What Can Changes To Illinois DUI Laws Mean For You In 2017 And Beyond?

If you're a resident of the Land of Lincoln who has amassed more than one DUI conviction over the years, being picked up and charged with DUI for a third or fourth time could mean the revocation of your driver's license for an extremely long period -- in fact, around 5,000 Illinois residents have lost their licenses for good after being convicted of their fourth DUI. Read on to learn more about how multiple DUI offenses are treated under Illinois law, as well as how a change to state law taking effect in January 2017 could provide a bit of relief to those dealing with lengthy or permanent driver's license suspensions following a DUI conviction.

How will a third or fourth Illinois DUI conviction affect your life?

Under Illinois law, those convicted of a first or second DUI will have a Class A misdemeanor conviction on their records -- while still a criminal offense, not rising to the level that would merit a prison sentence or revocation of one's firearm ownership or voting rights. However, the third DUI conviction automatically becomes a Class 2 felony, a serious charge that carries with it a mandatory minimum 10-year revocation of the defendant's driver's license. Those who are caught driving on a suspended license following their third or subsequent DUI conviction, or who are arrested for DUI yet again, may find themselves subject to a lifetime revocation or time in prison.

The "three strikes" nature of this law makes it important to fight back against DUI charges to the best of your ability. Not all DUI convictions come from an impaired driver behind the wheel -- some can involve drivers who entered their vehicle while intoxicated just for shelter from the outside elements or to sleep off a hangover before heading home, yet being convicted of one or more DUIs under these circumstances could put a driver well on the road to a decade-long license revocation and felony record if arrested a third time.

What changes were recently made to Illinois law that could impact multiple DUI offenders? 

A law taking effect January 1, 2017, will permit those who are currently under license suspension following a third or subsequent DUI to petition the trial court for a provisional driver's license. This driver's license would allow a defendant to travel to a couple of specific locations (like work, home, and a child's school) legally but would prohibit travel that wasn't for an express and approved purpose.  

Proponents of this legal change have pointed to its ability to return individuals with multiple DUI convictions to the workforce by allowing them to transport themselves; because much of Illinois outside the greater Chicago area is rural, it can be hard for someone who is unable to drive to earn a living. Opponents of the change have framed it as a way to let problem drivers back on the roads; however, the bar to regaining one's driver's license is a fairly steep one and could be difficult for many who haven't already demonstrated a commitment to safe and responsible driving. The granting of these probationary licenses is done on a discretionary basis, giving the judge the ability to grant or deny a license based only on his or her opinion on the situation.

If you're interested in regaining your driving rights following your third or fourth DUI, you'll want to consult an attorney. Because this law (and process) is so new, it may be difficult for court staff to navigate, and having an experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of DUI law will go a long way toward gaining you the relief you seek. To find an attorney, visit a site like http://www.jdlarsonlaw.com.