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Illinois takes on drunk drivers with ignition interlock devices

For years, researchers and lawmakers have struggled to identify the best deterrents against drunk driving. Although most states have followed a prevailing trend that includes assigned stiffer penalties and fines, others have found the most promise within educationally-based rehabilitation programs. According to CBS Chicago, the Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device initiative, Illinois’ most recently introduced anti-drunk driving program, has shown great promise in the months since it was first implemented.

Ignition interlock devices hold the most promise   

Illinois runs an ignition interlocks device program, according to the Chicago Tribune. The program is not paid for by taxpayers, but by convicted drunk drivers. Offenders under BAIID must agree to be monitored at all times while driving their vehicles. Treatment participants have their vehicles fitted with an electronic monitoring device that prevents them from traveling if alcohol is found on their breath. In order to discourage cheating, these ignition interlock devices also come paired with video cameras.

Illinois lawmakers have high hopes for the BAIID program, but just like with other DUI offense rehabilitation programs, the risk of recidivism is always present. Current statistics show that BAIID is already working. By combining steep fines, restricted driving privileges and long-term drug and alcohol treatment, it appears that DUI offenders in Illinois are beginning to take notice. According to the Illinois Secretary of State, drivers in the BAIID program can face felony charges if they attempt to deceive program administrators, or in any way tamper with their ignition interlock devices.

Combining penalties with rehabilitation

According to the Illinois State Police, license suspension is mandatory for first time DUI offenders and the punishments for repeat offenders become more severe with each subsequent charge. In general, drunk driving offenders can expect to face one or more of the following penalties after being convicted of DUI:

•           Alcohol abuse therapy

•           Community service

•           Jail time

•           Felony criminal records

•           License suspension

Despite the fact that the penalties for drunk driving have increased over time, drunk driving is still a serious problem in Illinois. According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a total of 4,192 drunk driving arrests occurred in 2012. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that a total of 321 drunk driving related fatalities occurred in the state of Illinois in 2012. This does not include the total number of severe injury claims attributed to drunk driving.

Lawmakers believe that BAIID will help to quell the number of car accidents and fatalities that occur in this state by forcing offenders to take full responsibility for their actions, in nearly every facet of their lives. By themselves, drunk driving offenses provide a minimal level of deterrence. However, combining these penalties and measures gives would-be DUI offenders greater reason for pause, often leading to decreased drunk driving rates amongst adult and adolescent drivers in the long-term.

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