Laws Enacted to Protect Tenants, Help Fight Drunk Driving and Sex Crimes

SPRINGFIELD–(ENEWSPF)–August 22, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn yesterday continued his push to increase public safety in Illinois by signing 12 new laws that will strengthen drunken driving enforcement, protect renters from theft, and help prosecutors get justice for victims of sex crimes. “Protecting the people of Illinois is a top priority,” Governor Quinn said. “These new laws crack down on crime and make our state a safer place, and my Administration will continue to implement policies that improve public safety for all people.”

House Bill 1241, sponsored by Rep. Lisa Hernandez (D-Cicero) and Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), will help prosecutors more aggressively pursue driving under the influence charges by requiring law enforcement officers to request a chemical test of an alleged intoxicated driver when the officer has probable cause to believe that alcohol was a factor in an accident that caused personal injury or death. Currently police procedure accepts, but does not require, chemical tests that reliably measure blood and urine samples for intoxication levels.

Governor Quinn also approved House Bill 147, sponsored by Rep. Lisa Dugan (D-Bradley) and Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights), which cracks down on bus drivers who are driving under the influence of alcohol and better protects students. Passed unanimously by the legislature, the new law imposes a three-year suspension of a bus driver’s license if the driver tests positive for alcohol or drugs or refuses a blood-alcohol test.

Senate Bill 1035, sponsored by Sen. Hutchinson and Rep. Emily McAsey (D-Romeoville), was also signed to help ensure child-predators are more quickly brought to justice. SB 1035 expands the Illinois Attorney General and States’ Attorneys authority to issue subpoenas to electronic communication companies such as internet service providers for records pertaining to criminal investigations of child sexual exploitation. This law will help ensure vital electronic records of criminal behavior are not lost due to court system delays. Governor Quinn also signed House Bill 277, a related measure sponsored by Rep. Bill Cunningham (D-Beverly) and Sen. John Mulroe (D-Chicago). HB 277 law protects victims of sex-based crimes and their families by making those who are required to be or are registered as sex offenders guilty of aggravated stalking when the offender violates orders of protection or otherwise terrorizes their previous victims or their families.

To protect local peace officers from unfounded complaints, Governor Quinn signed House Bill 1985, sponsored by Rep. John D’Amico (D-Chicago) and Rep. Bill Haine (D-Alton). The new law will require that any sworn complaint against a peace officer that is found to contain knowingly false information to be forwarded to the State’s Attorney for a determination of prosecution. This measure extends existing protections for state police officers to local authorities and helps them clear their records of false complaints, which are frequently made by gang members.

“This bill adds a layer of protection for the officers who serve and protect us every day,” Rep. D’Amico said.

Governor Quinn also approved House Bill 1233 to protect renters from theft due to key mismanagement. Sponsored by Rep. Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan) and Sen. Emil Jones III (D-Chicago), the new law requires landlords in Cook County to change the locks of each unit before a new tenant moves in and provide a signed disclosure form to the renter that confirms the change. If the lock change is not made, landlords will be civilly liable for theft and other damages incurred by tenants that are found to be caused by not changing the lock.

In addition, Governor Quinn signed the following bills to improve public safety, including:

  • House Bill 143, sponsored by former Rep. Dan Reitz (D-Steeleville) and Sen. Bill Hanie (D-Alton), allows an active member of a nationally recognized military re-enactment group to possess a vintage rifle or modern reproduction if they meet certain requirements.
  • House Bill 233 (Rebecca’s Law), sponsored by Minority Leader Rep. Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Chicago), increases the penalty for aggravated battery that causes great bodily harm, where the battery was intentional and involved torture. The new law will reclassify the crime as a Class 1 felony up from a Class 3 felony.
  • House Bill 1195, sponsored by Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) and Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) ensures all police animals are trained through programs certified by the Illinois State Police and requires records to be kept of all sniffs performed by police dogs during traffic stops.
  • House Bill 1398, sponsored by Rep. Don Moffitt (R-Galesburg) and Sen. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria), ensures that all hotels in Illinois install smoke detectors within 15 feet of each room used for sleeping.
  • Senate Bill 1321, sponsored by Sen. Ed Maloney (D-Chicago) and Rep. Will Davis (D-Chicago) ensures that firefighters and other personnel remain safe when responding to an emergency by requiring suppliers to add information about the presence of potentially dangerous medical oxygen tanks in residences to the Illinois Premise Alert Program.
  • Senate Bill 1914, sponsored by Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville) and former Rep. Dan Reitz (D-Steeleville), allows property owners outside the City of Chicago to guard against potential trespassers, unauthorized hunters and poachers by using purple paint or purple tags on trees and fence posts to indicate that property access is forbidden.
  • Senate Bill 2293, sponsored by Sen. Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign) and Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana), creates an income tax form checkoff to benefit the Crimestoppers program, which is administered by the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority to offer rewards for crime tips. The law also creates a second checkoff to support the After-School Rescue program, which is administered by the State Board of Education to promote extracurricular activities that prevent youth crime.