Senator Chris Nybo and DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin are working together to increase criminal penalties for truck drivers who exceed legal limits on driving hours and, as a result, cause serious traffic accidents.
Senate Bill 1582 increases penalties for violating motor carrier drivers’ hours-of-service regulations if the violation is determined to be a proximate cause of great bodily harm or death to another person. The legislation would affect drivers and the companies who force their drivers to drive beyond legal limits and falsify driving logs.
“DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin suggested this legislation after two accidents in northern Illinois within the last year involving truck drivers who drove far longer than federal regulations allow,” Senator Nybo said. “One of these accidents resulted in the death of a Toll Highway worker. Another resulted in serious injuries to a State Trooper in DuPage County.”
Senator Nybo said State's Attorney Berlin successfully prosecuted the violations in one of the cases, but was unable to seek a penalty equal to the seriousness of the accident’s outcome. State's Attorney Berlin testified on behalf of Senate Bill 1582 during the Senate Criminal Law Committee hearing March 18.
“It really makes the punishment more commensurate with the offense. When a commercial vehicle is traveling and the operator is over his hours, there is a great possibility they could fall asleep and that creates a tremendous hazard for the public,” State's Attorney Berlin said. “The regulations are there for safety. That’s the whole purpose for having these hours-of-service rules.”
Senate Bill 1582 states that a driver who willfully violates regulations pertaining to motor carrier drivers’ hours-of-service can be charged with a Class 3 felony (now Class 4 felony) when the violation was a proximate cause of great bodily harm or death to another person.
The legislation also states that any owner or company who forces their drivers to drive beyond legal limits and falsify driving logs can be charged with a Class 2 felony when the violation was a proximate cause of great bodily harm or death to another person.
Approved by a unanimous vote of the Senate Criminal Law Committee, Senate Bill 1582 now moves to the full Senate for consideration.