Former trooper applies for a fifth time to get license reinstated

News-DemocratMarch 25, 2014 

Matt Mitchell in a BND file photo.

ZIA NIZAMI/BND

Former Illinois State Police trooper Matt Mitchell has applied for a fifth time to get his driver's license reinstated.

The Illinois Secretary of State's Office confirmed Tuesday that Mitchell has a reinstatement hearing scheduled for 1:15 p.m. May 20 in Mount Vernon.

Mitchell was most recently turned down for reinstatement in February. He is eligible to reapply every three months and there is no limit to the number of times he can ask to have his driving privileges returned.

J. Israel Slone, attorney for Mitchell, said the hearing officers in Mount Vernon have recommended the former state trooper get his license back after the last two hearings. But an unknown Secretary of State's Office official in Springfield has vetoed the finding.

Slone said he has worked on thousands of license reinstatement hearings and has never seen a person have this much trouble getting their license back.

The former state trooper lost his driving privileges following a Nov. 23, 2007, crash in which his police cruiser crossed the center line of Interstate 64 near O'Fallon and smashed into oncoming traffic. Sisters Jessica and Kelli Uhl were killed in the impact.

The investigation of the accident determined Mitchell had been driving 126 mph while talking on his cellphone and typing on an in-dash computer when he lost control of the car he was driving.

The stretch of the highway where the crash happened is now named in memory of the sisters.

Kim Schlau, mother of the girls killed in the crash, said that she doesn't expect to keep Mitchell off the road forever. But after his third hearing she said she wasn't ready yet to see Mitchell back on the road.

Mitchell briefly lived in Texas after the crash. He has since moved back to Illinois where he hopes to get his license back to drive his daughter to school and to help him find a job.

The hearing will be held at 218 S. 12th St.

Mitchell is allowed, under the law, to apply for reinstatement every three months. There is no limit to how many times he can apply.

Mitchell pleaded guilty in 2010 to reckless driving and was sentenced to 30 months of probation.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or call 239-2626.