“Kelsey’s Law” Poised to Close Teen Driver Loophole

Teen driver with learner's permit was able to get license three days after crash that put another teen in the ICU

Proposed legislation named in honor of a Minooka teen nearly killed in a 2011 traffic accident is now one step closer to law after it sailed through the Illinois Senate last week.

If signed by Gov. Pat Quinn, "Kelsey’s Law" would prohibit any teen with unresolved traffic citations from getting a state driver’s license.  Sources said Quinn supports the proposed legislation.

The bill -- HB1009 -- is named after Kelsey Little and closes a loophole exposed after the teen was struck by the passenger mirror of a red truck as she and some friends walked along the side of a road not far from their Minooka homes on a warm October night.

The crash split Little's skull open and broke all of the bones in her face. The driver of the truck did not initially stop but later returned to the scene after being confront by another witness driver.

The driver of the red truck was 15 years old at the time and didn't have a driver's license. Police say the boy's mother admitted she allowed her son to drive unsupervised.

NBC Chicago is not naming that teen because of his age.

But what stunned everyone who knows Little was the fact that the unlicensed teen driver accused of putting Little in a hospital's Intensive Care Unit walked into the Secretary of State's office just three days after the crash and got his driver's license.

"I'm upset about it, too," Secretary of State Jesse White said in an interview last year. "Because first of all, when you are driving an automobile and you have a learner’s permit, you have to have a qualified driver next to you... Our hands were tied because we were not notified about this accident.

Under existing law, White's staff can only deny a license before it is issued or after a court ruling.

The new law would ask the question:

'Do you have a pending case in court dealing with a traffic violation?' If a teen answers, 'Yes,' or is caught lying, White's office can then invalidate that license application.

The Grundy County State’s Attorney said it did notify the state about the charges against the unlicensed driver in December, two months after the accident and after the teen got his license.

He was able to drive for more than a year before his case went to court. He pleaded guilty and his license was revoked to learner’s permit status until his 18th birthday. He was also sentenced to 200 hours of community service.

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