A new bill changing the way the state deals with drunk driving offenses is awaiting approval from the governor. The bill, which will introduce stricter charges for those accused of drunk driving in a commercial capacity. The bill will deal predominantly with those hired to drive commercially in Illinois.
The bill has its roots in a May 2013 case in which a limousine driver transporting high school students to their prom was charged with drunk driving, currently considered a misdemeanor under Illinois law. Thankfully no one was hurt in the incident, but the event prompted lawmakers to reconsider the severity of the punishments for drunk drivers transporting passengers under the existing law. This new bill is meant to address this issue.
Under the new law, drivers operating in a for-hire capacity, including taxis, buses, limousines and all other forms of transportation designed to transport multiple people, will be subject to far stricter penalties if they are found guilty of driving while under the influence of alcohol. Specifically, the bill will allow police to charge such a driver with a Class 4 felony if he or she is found guilty. A felony charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison or as many as two and a half years of probation.
Drunk driving represents a regrettable error in judgment on the part of the driver, and here in Illinois the consequences of being found guilty are becoming more strict every year. It is important to remember, however, that the burden of proof always lies on the prosecution to prove intoxication at the time of the incident. Those facing drunk driving charges may benefit from an up-to-date knowledge of existing and new laws pertaining to their case.
Source: Patch.com, "Looks Like Prom-Limo Driver's DUI Will Lead to State Law," Rick Nagel, June 5, 2013