ST. CHARLES – As the last of the missing driving under the influence and other serious driving infractions made their way from the Kane County Circuit Clerk to the Illinois Secretary of State, Glendale Heights resident Michael Geever got a rude awakening.
When Deborah Seyller was circuit clerk, about one-fourth of the driving infractions did not get sent electronically to the Illinois Secretary of State from 2002 to 2008 because of a computer glitch in the circuit clerk’s Jano system.
Seyller did not discover the problem until 2009. Deputy clerks went back through thousands of records by hand to search for those that did not make it through – and then sent them, officials said.
Geever’s fourth DUI conviction was among those that did not make it to Springfield until 2013. According to the secretary of state, Geever also was convicted of DUI in 1985, 1986 and 1990.
“I actually went to prison on this charge,” Geever, 51, said. “I did everything I had to do. I got reinstated and my driving record is absolutely spotless now. I have not had a speeding ticket. I drive a company car as an outside sales rep.”
A Dec. 4 letter from the secretary of state advised Geever that his driving privileges will be revoked for life beginning Feb. 1. Geever said he struggled with alcoholism for years, then turned his life around.
He said he has been sober for six years now. He found a job, got married three years ago and is a deacon in the Lamplighter Bible Church in Roselle, helping others who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction.
Losing his license for life, he said, will affect his ability to support his family.
If Kane County had notified the secretary of state in 2003 instead of in 2013, Geever said, he would have accepted a lifelong license revocation as a consequence of his actions. He said he would have moved to a city with better public transportation and looked for a different type of work.
“When the gavel came down, I never should have gotten my license back,” Geever said.
Dave Druker, a spokesman for the secretary of state, said a fourth DUI conviction is a life revocation in Illinois. The fact that the information did not reach the secretary of state until 10 years later does not change the situation, he said.
“The state’s law does not allow the secretary of state any exceptions,” Druker said. “He is required to do this, to move on the revocation. On the positive side, we have a good relationship with the current Kane County clerk, and he is doing a very good job of getting records to us.”
The current Kane County circuit clerk, Tom Hartwell, said deputy clerks have worked their way through 2002 and are up to date.
“We’ve got everything reported,” Hartwell said. “Our audit is complete.”
Geever’s pastor, Paul Giersz, said he wants Geever to keep his driver’s license. Giersz said he wrote a letter to the secretary of state on Geever’s behalf, saying “Michael is one in a million, and I am asking that you grant him favor in regards to him keeping his driving privileges.”
Giersz said his church has a recovery ministry called “Surrender and Win.” Geever sponsors several young men, meeting them at treatment centers and bringing them to church, Giersz said.
“We have an incredible track record of taking people who are broken, bust-out drunks, and turning them into incredible people of society,” Giersz said. “Michael is one of those. ... He is the poster boy of someone who is transformed. I am a person with a past myself. I used to be ... like Michael.”
Geever’s employer, Jon Romano of J&S Plumbing in Elk Grove Village, said Geever’s troubles are in the past, as far as he is concerned.
“His act got cleaned up a while ago,” Romano said. “He is a consummate professional on a day-to-day basis.”
Know more about DUI convictions in Illinois:
• First conviction is a misdemeanor resulting in a minimum revocation of driving privileges for one year, two years if the driver is under the age of 21.
• Second conviction is a misdemeanor resulting in a revocation of driving privileges for a minimum of five years if it occurs within 20 years of the first conviction.
• Third conviction is a felony with a revocation of driving privileges for a minimum of 10 years.
• Fourth conviction is a felony resulting in a lifetime revocation of driving privileges with no relief available.
Source: “2014 Illinois DIU Fact Book” from the Illinois Secretary of State