Cracking Down on Drinking and Driving

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

Illinois lawmakers are cracking down on the deadly combination of drinking and driving, especially involving our youth.
Representative Chuck Jefferson is co-sponsoring a bill that would increase penalties for repeat D.U.I. offenders driving with kids in the car. A second offense would be a felony punishable by three years in jail and a $25,000 fine. That's 25 times the fine for a first-time D.U.I.
"Basically we have to protect the children. And children under the age of 16 oftentimes have no say, most of the time have no say on who they're in the cars with and where they're going," says State Representative Chuck Jefferson (D-Rockford).
Another proposed Illinois law would stop people under the age of 21 from driving anywhere, if they're caught drinking. Under the law, underage drinkers would lose their licenses for three months after the offense.
"I think it sends a strong message to teenagers that first of all you shouldn't be drinking, but if in fact you are caught drinking, whether you're driving at the time or not, your driver's license will be suspended," says Jefferson.
But some teens say the penalty doesn't fit the crime.
"If you're driving I can see how it would affect other people, because you're drunk, you're impaired when you drive, you could get in a car accident and your license should be revoked for that. But if you're not driving and you get caught drunk you're not really hurting other people," says 17-year old Seth Stanfill.
The proposed D.U.I. law passed unanimously out of committee. The full state house and senate still have to approve it. The underage drinking law will soon go before the state house.


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