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Driving records to be available across counties

Friday, August 23, 2013
WLS
by John Garcia

Action is aimed at keeping dangerous drivers off the road to make streets safer and you may wonder why it took so long.

The way the system is set up now, if you have a bunch of traffic tickets in Naperville or Joliet, or even Louisville, Kentucky, they would likely not have any way to know about it if you came to court in Cook County, but that is about to change.

Judges in Cook County and Illinois will soon have a new weapon in their battle to keep dangerous drivers off the road.

Thanks to new agreements all county clerks in Illinois and around the country will now share driving records.

Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans says he's been pushing to get this information available for years.

"It's a win-win situation," he said. "The public will be safer. And it will help us get dangerous drivers will be off the street."

Judge Evans sent a letter to judges and prosecutors Thursday afternoon telling them that driving records for those charged with even the most minor offenses will be available from around the country starting next month.

In our computerized world it almost begs the question of what took so long. Lynda Peters oversees a team that prosecutes several hundred thousand traffic tickets a year in Chicago.

"Unfortunately everybody's designed their own database," she said. "And there's some hurdles you have to jump through legally and technologically to get them to talk to each other. And that's what we've been working on for quite a few months."

Peters says this will now allow prosecutors to identify the most dangerous drivers from the piles of faceless tickets her office deals with every day. Background information on drivers with more serious offenses like DUI, or driving without a license, has long been available to prosecutors by going through police records, but now prosecutors will be able to see everything.

"I hope and pray we will keep people safer as a result of this effort," Evans said.

Judge Evans said this agreement is the result of discussions with Secretary of State Jess White, as well as the county clerk's office. It is due to go into effect next month.



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