Is Illinois tough enough on drunk drivers?

The American Bazaar reported on the tragic and completely preventable death of a seven-year-old boy in Illinois almost four years ago. The child was riding in a minivan driven by his then-drunk mother. The van went off the road, ejecting the boy. He died the next morning. The mother's blood alcohol content was found to be 0.226 percent. An open container of alcohol was also located in the vehicle.

Stories like these make many people in Illinois wonder if the state's laws and penalties for drunk driving are tough enough. Just what can happen to a person who is convicted of drunk driving in Illinois?

An overview of penalties

The specific penalties a person may experience after being convicted of a DUI in Illinois may vary based in part on the existence of any previous offenses and whether or not an accident occurred.

In the case referenced above, the mother entered into a plea deal which reduced her potential maximum jail time to seven years.

A standard first-time DUI conviction can take away a person's right to drive and require jail time for up to 12 months and impose a fine up to $2,500. A second offense within 20 years of the first may increase the time without driving privileges from 12 to 60 months. A minimum jail sentence may be required but is also able to be substituted with community service.

It is not until a third offense that drivers face felony charges unless a serious accident occurs. An aggravated DUI charge may result even for a first DUI when serious bodily injury or death results. This is a Class 4 felony in Illinois.

Drivers given more opportunity to drive after a DUI conviction

According to Cyberdrive Illinois, starting in January of 2016, people convicted of DUI offenses have had an easier time than before reinstating their driving privileges. Thanks to new laws that went into effect at the beginning of the year, more drunk drivers are back on the road with either Restricted Driving Permits or Monitoring Device Driving Permits.

For example, a person who had previously had at least four drunk driving convictions was subject to a lifetime driver's license revocation. Now, after five years without driving and three proven years without consuming alcohol, that same driver may apply for a Restricted Driving Permit. If granted, the person may operate vehicles installed with an ignition interlock device.

Keeping people safe and seeking compensation

The law is intended to keep people safe. When this does not happen, it is important that compensation be sought. Talking with an attorney after a drunk driving accident is recommended so that victims and family members may get the help they deserve.