Illinois panel pushes to eliminate supervision option in fatal wrecks

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

If an Illinois state traffic safety committee gets its way, drivers involved in certain fatal wrecks would no longer face a mere slap on the wrist.

The state’s Advisory Committee on Traffic Safety voted unanimously to pursue a change to Illinois law that would prohibit the issuance of court supervision for drivers involved in fatal wrecks.

State law now permits drivers involved in fatal crashes to seek and obtain court supervision.

Supervisions allow certain traffic offenders to pay a fine and, in some instances, attend traffic school to avoid stiffer penalties.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is out to change the rule. His proposal would prohibit judges from giving the reduced sentence to anyone found guilty of causing a traffic death.

“My mission as secretary of state is to make the roads of Illinois as safe as possible,” White said in a statement.

He cited two instances when drivers who caused wrecks that resulted in fatal injuries to others received court supervisions.

One driver struck another vehicle while texting behind the wheel. The second driver hit a pedestrian while crossing the street.

Critics say that it is a bad idea to take away the option of discretion from judges. They contend that there are occasions when nobody is at fault for a tragedy.

The proposal can be submitted to state lawmakers once they convene in Jan. 2013.

Early this year Illinois lawmakers adopted another revision to the state’s court supervision rule. The rule change takes the option of court supervision away from drivers who break the posted speed limit by more than 25 mph on local roads and 30 mph on highways.

Previously, supervisions were available to drivers who exceed the posted limit by as much as 40 mph.