Drunk drivers in Illinois could face harsher penalties–including more jail time for those with a child passenger or those who have been convicted of multiple offenses–under laws signed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the Chicago Tribune reports. One law, aimed at making sure the state handles all potential felony DUI cases, says it will be illegal for municipal prosecutors to handle such a case. In recent years, several towns have hired attorneys to prosecute DUI cases under city ordinances, which they say helps them keep better track of offenders and raise money.
Another new law toughens penalties for people caught repeatedly driving with a DUI-suspended or -revoked license. In the past, anyone convicted of the crime was eligible for the same sentence, limited to 3 years in prison. The new law introduces increasingly harsher sentences, up to 7 years in prison for 15 or more offenses. “At some point you say, `You’ve had all the chances you can get,'” said Rep. William Black. The Department of Corrections warned that the legislation will mean an increase of about 544 inmates and operating and construction costs of roughly $131 million over 10 years.