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Ten New 2016 Changes in Illinois Law

By Gardi, Haught, Fischer & Bhosale LTD
February 1, 2016

A new year means new laws and changes to old laws in Illinois. As the New Year rang in, ten new, interesting changes took effect, beginning with the divorce process.

1. Divorces are now “no fault”. Illinois now joins a number of states who simply allow spouses to base their divorce on “irreconcilable differences that have resulted in an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage”. Previously, spouses could attempt to gain leverage by asserting one of the many fault grounds previously available in Illinois: (1) mental cruelty; (2) adultery; (3) physical cruelty; (4) drug addiction; and (5) drunkenness. The bill also redefines the term “irretrievable breakdown” as parties who have lived separately for a continuous six-month period, thereby speeding the divorce process by reducing the period of separated time required before divorcing.

2. Joint and sole custody language will no longer be used. The court will no longer delineate parents’ custody rights to “sole” or “joint” custody. The court will now simply allocate parental responsibilities.

3. Assets valuation procedures in divorce have changed. Courts are now required to value assets at their value upon the date of trial or at a value agreed to by both parties. If the value of assets are in dispute and an expert is required, both parties will equally share the cost incurred.

4. More people will be able to utilize “low cost joint divorce”. The income caps for parties eligible for low- cost, joint divorce was raised from $35,000 to $60,000.

5. New Immunity for Underage Drinkers. House Bill 1336 now grants immunity to underage teens who call for medical services when they have had too much to drink or if they call on behalf of another underage teen who has had too much to drink.

6. Senate Bill 627 eliminates all “hard times” for those arrested for DUI.
First time offenders once had a mandatory, 30-day suspension (“hard time”) of their driving privileges before being eligible for a monitored device driving permit— a permit which permits offenders to drive once a breathing ignition interlock device (BAIID) is installed. Now, first time offenders can apply the first day following their arrest, so long as a BAIID is installed on their vehicle. Individuals driving on a monitored device driving permit without a BAIID will face a Class 4 Felony.
Individuals who have had their license revoked or are on their second or subsequent summary suspension, were formerly subject to a restricted hard time period. They may now request an administrative hearing with the Secretary of State to immediately obtain a restricted driving permit. This change will affect individuals with revoked driving privileges due to a previous DUI as well as second summary suspension individuals who have had a prior DUI disposition within the last five years of the current arrest.

Multiple DUI offenders who have two DUI convictions within 20 years or three in their lifetime, would normally be subject to a five or 10 year minimum mandatory period of revocation. However, under the new law, individuals can apply for a relief via a restricted driving permit.

7. Pet Neglect Becomes a Misdemeanor. Senate Bill 125 makes leaving a dog or cat in prolonged heat or cold that results in injury or death now punishable by $2,500 or up to a year in jail. A repeat offender will be subject to a Class 4 felony, which is punishable by 1-3 years in jail. The court can also order psychological evaluation and treatment and is required to order evaluation and treatment if the offender is a juvenile or a pet hoarder.

8. Prohibition of Powdered Alcohol Believing powdered alcohol too dangerous for the public, Senate Bill 67 now makes the knowing, selling, offering, sale, delivery, receiving, or purchasing for resale of powdered alcohol a Class A misdemeanor. Repeat offenders will be subject to a Class 4 felony.

9. Legalization of Powdered Caffeine. Powdered caffeine is now legal to Illinoisans over the age of 18.

10. “Silver Alert” Established. Similar to The Amber Alert, Senate Bill 1846 introduces a “Silver Alert” for adults with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who have gone missing.
As 2016 unfolds, if you need any assistance navigating through the existing or changing laws in Illinois, we are available to help. Contact Gardi, Haught, Fischer & Bhosale at 847-944-9400 or request a free case evaluation below.

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