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If you have a DUI conviction, can you ever drive again?

You may be as sorry as you can be about your drunk driving charge, and indeed, most first offenders find a conviction for DUI to be a frightening experience. The penalties are harsh and include heavy fines, but what bothers you most may be the ignition interlock requirement.

In the state of Illinois, all DUI every drunk driving offender must have a breath alcohol ignition interlock devices (BAIID) installed in his or her vehicle. This is the only way to restore driving privileges.

Rules you should know

Suspension means you will lose your driving privileges temporarily, but the courts can reinstate your license after a certain waiting period and payment of your fine. Keep in mind that suspension is automatic if you fail a breath test or refuse to take one. On the other hand, if you are in a drunk driving accident that results in injury or death, the courts will revoke your driver's license and there is no guarantee they will restore it. Only the Secretary of State can determine whether your situation warrants reinstatement.

RDP versus MDDP

If you have a suspended driver's license, you can apply for a Monitored Device Driving Permit. This will allow you to drive with an ignition interlock system installed in your vehicle. You cannot have an MDDP if the courts revoked your license. However, you can apply for a Restricted Driving Permit. Installation of an ignition interlock device will normally be a condition of having the RDP.

How the BAIID works

The ignition interlock device affixes to your dashboard and connects to your engine via wires. A small but powerful piece of equipment, it resembles a mobile phone but is basically a computer with a breathalyzer attached. When you breathe into the mouthpiece, the device records your blood alcohol content measurement. It is very simple: If your BAC level is below .02 percent, your vehicle will start, and off you go.

Turning the page

Driving is a privilege. You will probably see that more clearly if you receive a DUI conviction in the state of Illinois. Even though you face criminal charges, you will likely be able to drive again, but getting to that point will not be easy -- nor should it be.

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