Illinois fixing glitch in license software : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

State fixing glitch in license software

December 29, 2000


Reacting to the death of Chicago fire Lt. Scott Gillen, programmers began Thursday to fix a software glitch that officials said may have allowed thousands of Illinois drivers with bad records to get licenses in other states.

About 25,000 drivers in Illinois don't have licenses but have had temporary permits, like Carlando Hurt of Hammond, Ind., who was charged with killing Gillen.

Officials don't know how many of the 25,000 have slipped through the software loophole, but all of their records will be updated to be safe, said Kenneth Durbin, chief deputy director of information technology for the secretary of state's office.

"It was a design error. This is the first time anything has ever come to our attention with this problem," Durbin said.

Gillen, a father of five, was killed early Saturday while working at an accident on the Bishop Ford Freeway on the South Side. Hurt, who police say was driving drunk, had received an Indiana license this year, despite a record of more than 20 traffic tickets in Illinois.

"It's a question of having the best possible communication available between states," said David Druker, a spokesman for the Illinois secretary of state's office.

Since 1993, Illinois has used a computer program that warns other states about bad drivers here. The software normally tells other states that a person with a bad record and with a driver's license is ineligible to get a license elsewhere.

Hurt was marked ineligible for a permit. But because he had never had a license in Illinois, state officials left blank the space indicating Hurt's eligibility for a license. The computer mistakenly inserted "elg" for eligible.

Programmers began rewriting the program Thursday, testing it on five random drivers who have permits and bad records but don't have licenses, similar to Hurt's situation.

The software was written by secretary of state personnel under the guidance of a consultant. Illinois officials said the software was approved by federal officials.

Hurt, 26, a pest control employee and church deacon, lived in Chicago until moving to Hammond nearly two years ago. He received an Indiana license in June. He has been charged with reckless homicide and drunken driving.

Illinois officials say Indiana officials should have noticed Hurt was ineligible for a permit and for a commercial driver's license, even though the form said Hurt was eligible for a license.

Indiana officials said they had no reason to suspect Hurt because Illinois had marked him eligible. But they applaud Illinois' efforts to correct the problem, said Alvin Hayes, a spokesman for the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

"We want to make sure all the information is accurate," he said.

-- Martin Thompson (, December 29, 2000

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