New Illinois law limits probation in fatal crashes

Drivers in fatal crashes will be less likely to get a special kind of probation under a new law that went into effect this year.

The law is the latest to limit when judges can use the probation, called court supervision, which is widely popular because it's not listed on drivers' publicly available driving abstracts. That means insurance companies can't see the tickets, nor does the state count them toward the three-a-year conviction limit that can lead to a license suspension.

Critics have complained for years that judges have been too lenient granting supervisions. In 2010, the Tribune found supervisions were given to most speeders going 100 mph or faster, prompting a state law that prohibited supervisions for egregious speeders.

The new law targets drivers who kill others. It limits supervision in fatal crashes only to drivers who have clean records before the crash, typically those who avoided getting convictions or supervisions for at least the four years before the crash.

It was pushed by the secretary of state's office, which cited two cases. One involved Patricia McNamara, who was killed by a McHenry County driver distracted by his cellphone. The driver was granted supervision, despite having past speeding convictions.

The other case involved a Chicago cabdriver with a history of tickets. The cabbie was granted supervision after running over an elderly woman in a crosswalk.

McNamara's parents, Walter and Carol Speer, said in an email that they hope the new law makes drivers think twice before being distracted by their cellphones. A separate state law, also taking effect this year, prohibits the use of hand-held cellphones.

"We are trying to take one more step closer to saving another life," the couple said.

Secretary of State Jesse White called the law "an important next step" in promoting traffic safety "and one that makes sense."

jmahr@tribune.com

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • 'Great team effort' by joggers saves man in Lake Michigan

    'Great team effort' by joggers saves man in Lake Michigan

    During an early morning jog along Lake Michigan with his wife and children Tuesday, John Corba spotted a man struggling in the water nearly 30 yards from the shore.

  • Grateful Dead drummer dishes dirt, drug dependency in new book

    Grateful Dead drummer dishes dirt, drug dependency in new book

    As a founding member of the Grateful Dead, Bill Kreutzmann watched the world change from behind his drum kit, shoveling coal in the wildly tribal rhythm section as the Dead went from San Francisco underground curio to ground-breaking indie outfit, then progenitor of the improvisation-based rock...

  • Book comes out ahead of Grateful Dead farewell concerts in Chicago this weekend

    Book comes out ahead of Grateful Dead farewell concerts in Chicago this weekend

    The cliché that colors every good rock star story is “sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll." For the Grateful Dead, the trailblazing rock band known for its improvisational style, revelatory live shows and dedicated fanbase, there was that and so much more.

  • 10 best movies of 2015 so far

    10 best movies of 2015 so far

    The year’s half over! How did that happen? No idea. With six months of a good year of movies in the books, let’s see how the Top 10 list is looking, with a quote from each respective review. Note: There are a few I’ve seen that I really like that haven’t yet opened in Chicago, and those aren’t...

  • If you make less than $50,440, proposal could increase overtime pay

    If you make less than $50,440, proposal could increase overtime pay

    Nearly 5 million more Americans would qualify for overtime pay under new rules proposed Tuesday by the Obama administration, a long-anticipated move expected to affect a broad swath of salaried employees from store managers to social workers to restaurant shift supervisors.

  • Chicago's minimum wage increase attracting workers to city

    Chicago's minimum wage increase attracting workers to city

    Unlike previous summers, UniStaff is experiencing a spike in job applicants at its Little Village location, a trend the branch manager says is tied to the city's minimum wage increase to $10 per hour beginning Wednesday.

Comments
Loading