In this photo taken March 27, 2012, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in his Springfield, Ill. office. In the interview, White admits to mistakes in helping to appoint Derrick Smith, a state lawmaker who now stands accused of bribery, but he says voters should judge him on his performance in office. Republicans can bring it up in 2014 if they want, he says, but it would be a cheap shot. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Updated: July 30, 2013 8:34AM
The Fourth of July is a time to gather with friends and family to celebrate and honor the birth of our great nation. I urge everyone to celebrate safely and responsibly and be sure to not drink and drive.
Beginning Monday, my office is implementing an upgrade to our state’s innovative Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) program which entails requiring an in-car camera to accompany every BAIID.
The law change provides more accountability to a program that has received national acclaim as a model in the fight against drunken driving. The in-car camera will eliminate any doubt that the user of the BAIID is in fact the DUI offender.
I am proud of our state’s BAIID program. When we expanded it in 2009 to include first-time DUI offenders, we became only the second state in the nation to do so. Since the expansion of BAIID, drunken driving deaths have decreased by 24 percent.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) awarded Illinois with a five-star rating, the highest ranking possible, for our state’s efforts to combat drunken driving. And last year, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that other states follow Illinois’ lead and implement a similarly comprehensive BAIID program.
We can take pride in Illinois becoming a national leader in the fight against drunken driving, saving countless lives. I urge everyone to drive safely and responsibly this Fourth of July holiday and beyond.
Illinois secretary of state
Legalize fireworks in Illinois
Hasn’t the time come for Illinois to step into the 21st century and make consumer fireworks legal for sale and use?
Forty-six states permit the sale and use of some level of consumer fireworks, with Kentucky, Maine and Michigan having gone to full-line consumer fireworks in the past two years. Those states recognize that consumer fireworks are safer than ever before, and their sale can raise badly needed tax revenue.
People love to watch major league sports, but they also love to play sandlot sports. The same holds true with fireworks. People love to watch professional displays, but they also love to shoot their own backyard fireworks. Fireworks and the Fourth of July are synonymous.
Legislators should take Illinoisans out of the shadows of uncertainty and illegality and bring the state to parity with so many other states that permit the sale and use of the full line of consumer fireworks. This is long overdue.
Imports of fireworks have doubled from 117 million pounds in 1994 to 234 million pounds in 2011, while the number of fireworks-related injuries has dropped by more than 23 percent from 12,500 to 9,600, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
William A. Weimer