Deputy Secretary Tom Benigno Initiates COVID-19 Safety Measures at all Illinois Drivers Facilities
Deputy Secretary Tom Benigno, in response to the unprecedented State shutdown due to COVID-19 precautions, has reconfigured state drivers facilities and initiated stringent safety measures as the facilities reopened to the public. Thorough cleanings, extensive use of PPE, social distancing and other safety measures allowed the Secretary’s facilities to open to the public before any other State agencies. While offering expiration extensions and featuring on-line services, the Secretary of State’s office is doing everything it can to expedite lines and the large volume of customers needing services after the two and half month shutdown.
Illinois Achieves REAL ID Compliance; Further Protecting Residents from Fraud and Identity Theft
White and Benigno upgraded the issuance process and security features to the driver’s license/ID card (DL/ID) design to better protect citizens from fraud and identity theft. With implementation of these changes, Illinois achieved full compliance with the federal REAL ID mandate and began issuing REAL IDs statewide in spring 2019. More than 900,000 REAL IDs have already been issued as of June, 2020.
Secretary’s Office Implements Innovative Driving Record Purchasing Program
Illinoisans no longer need to visit Driver Services facilities to purchase their driving records due to a new program launched by the Secretary’s office. Motorists may now purchase a copy of their driving record online by visiting www.cyberdriveillinois.com. This new program will allow customers to immediately print their driving record at the end of the transaction. The program is accessible 24/7 at www.cyberdriveillinois.com through the “Online Services” section under the “Driving Record Abstract” category.
Secretary of State’s Office GDL Program Helps Reduce Teen Driving Deaths by 69 Percent
The Secretary’s office announced that teen driver deaths are down 69 percent since 2007. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), since White’s and Benigno’s efforts to overhaul the state’s graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws took effect in 2008, teen driving fatalities have dropped by 69 percent.
Scott’s Law Awareness Campaign
The Secretary’s Office launched a new awareness campaign to call on drivers to adhere to the Move Over Law, also known as Scott’s Law, designed to protect law enforcement and emergency responders who are stopped on the side of roadways. As part of this educational campaign, White and Benigno added a reminder about the Move Over Law to driver’s license renewal notices and vehicle registration renewals and also created an educational flyer available at all Driver Services facilities.
Secretary’s Office New Law Streamlines Veteran’s Designation on DL/ID Cards
The Secretary of State’s Office initiated a new law streamlining the process for U.S. military veterans interested in getting a driver’s license or ID card (DL/ID) with the word “VETERAN” displayed on the card. Effective Jan 1, 2020, the new law allows veterans who have received an Honorable or General under Honorable Conditions discharge to obtain the veteran’s designation on their DL/ID by bringing their DD214 or other acceptable discharge document directly to a Secretary of State Driver Services facility. Under this law, the veteran will no longer be required to visit the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) before coming to the Secretary of State. To ensure only eligible veterans are receiving this designation, the Secretary of State’s office will contact IDVA officials to confirm an applicant is a veteran. If IDVA officials cannot confirm the applicant is a veteran, the Secretary of State may cancel the applicant’s DL/ID. Since 2015, when White’s office first launched this service for our heroes, more than 100,000 veterans have obtained a DL/ID with the veteran’s designation.
Secretary’s Office Initiative Expands Organ/Tissue Donor Registry
Approximately 90,000 new registrants have joined the Organ/Tissue Donor Registry since the 2018 law allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to register. Under the previous law, an individual had to be at least 18 years old to join the registry.
Secretary’s Office Announces Organ/Tissue Donor Registry Hits 6.8 Million
The Secretary’s Office announced that the state’s organ/tissue donor registry reached 6.8 million registrants. White’s and Benigno’s mission is to sign up everyone who is eligible in order to give others a second chance at life and end the waiting for the approximately 4,700 people statewide.
Secretary’s Office Awarded More than $464,000 Project Next Generation Grants
The Office of the Illinois Secretary of State awarded $464,469 in FY20 Project Next Generation (PNG) grants to 29 public libraries statewide which will provide technology and mentors to help at-risk youth. Established by Secretary White in 1999, and guided by the Deputy Secretary Tom Benigno, PNG is an innovative program administered through Illinois public libraries. PNG mentors work with middle and high school students to use various technologies, achieve success through project based learning and gain life skills such as effective communication, goal-setting and conflict resolution.
Secretary of State’s Office Awarded Over $5.6 Million in Adult Literacy Grants
The Secretary’s Office awarded over $5.6 million to the Adult Literacy Grant Program to help learners develop and enhance their reading, math, writing and English-language skills. An estimated 2.1 million Illinois residents need adult literacy and/or English-language instruction. These funds help 113 local literacy projects support adult learners to achieve their utmost potential in the upcoming year. A total of 14,352 learners will be served by adult literacy programs around the state. A total of 6,086 volunteer tutors will provide training for learners putting them on the path to lifelong learning. Adult literacy projects help adults who read below the ninth-grade level or speak English at a beginning level to improve their reading, writing, math or use of English as a new language.
Secretary of State’s Office Launches Passenger License Plate Replacement Program
The Secretary’s Office launched a cost-efficient passenger license plate replacement program in January 2017 to replace the oldest license plates with newly designed plates at no additional cost to Illinois taxpayers. The purpose of the program is to ensure – now and in the future – that older license plates on Illinois roads are replaced. License plates’ reflectivity diminishes with age, which impacts law enforcement’s ability to quickly and accurately identify license plate numbers. The forward-thinking, long-term solution does not require a complete replating overhaul, which would cost around $60 million.
White and Benigno Initiate Comprehensive Drunk Driving Law
The Secretary of State’s office initiated a comprehensive DUI law, which originated from his Advisory Committee on Traffic Safety, designed to further combat drunk driving by increasing participation in the state’s nationally heralded Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) program. The proposal was strongly supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM).
Secretary’s Office Moves to Toughen Texting While Driving Law
White and Benigno initiated legislation strengthening the law on texting while driving. The new addition to the state’s statutes cracks down on texting while driving by classifying first-time offenses as moving violations. With the increased use of technological devices, distracted driving has become a serious problem on the roads of our state and throughout the nation.
Illinois–Top Traffic Safety State in Nation
Spurred by the leadership of Secretary White and Deputy Secretary Benigno, the Secretary of State’s Office has initiated laws cracking down on texting while driving, chorionic DUI offenders and excessive speeders, which has helped cement Illinois’ position as the top traffic safety state in the nation. In fact, in a June 2018 survey by WalletHub ranked Illinois first in the nation when it comes to DUI, distracted driving and texting while driving laws.
New Law Helps Veterans Gain Employment in the Trucking Industry
Secretary White and Deputy Secretary Benigno are making it easier for military veterans to get jobs in the trucking industry. Legislation, initiated by the Secretary of State’s office and signed into law by the governor, allows for an exemption from the Commercial Driver License (CDL) knowledge written test requirement for qualified current or former military personnel who participated in military heavy-vehicle driving programs.
Secretary’s Office Launches Statewide Program to Increase Library Services for Individuals with Autism
The Secretary of State’s Office and The Autism Program of Illinois (TAP) launched “Targeting Autism” an innovative program designed to create collective solutions to address the support needs of Illinois residents impacted by autism. This program encourages libraries to work together with TAP, which is the largest statewide autism resource and service network in the nation.
Secretary White and Deputy Secretary Benigno initiated legislation to prohibit the issuance of a driver’s license to a driver under age 18 who has an unresolved traffic citation. Effective since 2014, Kelsey’s Law also allows the Secretary’s office to cancel a GDL if it is determined that at the time of issuance the minor had an unresolved traffic citation. Under previous law, a GDL applicant was not required to report any pending traffic citations. The law is named in honor of 15-year-old Kelsey Little, who in 2011 was seriously injured in an automobile crash by a young driver operating on a learner’s permit. The driver was issued a traffic citation for the incident, of which the Secretary of State’s office was not notified due to the lack of a reporting requirement. Three days later the teen driver applied for and was issued a driver’s license.
Upgrades to BAIID Program to Require In-Car Camera Installation
In 2013, Secretary White and Deputy Secretary Benigno initiated a key upgrade to Illinois’ innovative BAIID program, which now requires an in-car camera to accompany every BAIID installation. The law took effect July 1, 2013, and provides additional accountability to a program that has received national acclaim as a model in the fight against drunk driving.
School Bus Driver Safety Legislation Becomes Law
The Secretary’s Office initiated legislation effective in 2012 that suspends for three years the school bus permit of a driver who refuses to submit to a test or fails to obtain a zero tolerance for the presence of alcohol, drugs or intoxicating compounds. The law allows a school bus company that has reasonable suspicion that one of its school bus drivers is under the influence of alcohol or drugs to require the driver to submit to alcohol/drug testing before driving a school bus. The Secretary of State’s office will suspend the school bus permit for three years for any driver who refuses to submit to the test or fails to obtain a zero tolerance for alcohol or drugs.
Crack Down on Chronic Abusers of Disability Plates and Placards
Secretary White and Deputy Secretary Benigno initiated legislation targeting those who habitually abuse disability parking placards and license plates. The law increased fines to $750 for second offenses and $1,000 for third offenses. The law also clarified that the authorized holder of the parking placard must be present when entering or exiting a vehicle; placards are not transferable.