Drunk driving accidents are still a common cause of auto accident-related death and injury in Illinois. In 2014 (the last year for which data is available):
- 281 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes—this constitutes 30 percent of total fatal crashes in the state for that year.
- There were a total of 32,822 DUI arrests.
- 90 percent of all drivers arrested for DUI in 2014 lost their driving privileges.
- Most of those arrested (86 percent) in 2014 were first-time offenders.
The state of Illinois takes driving under the influence very seriously and penalties can be significant. This is why it’s so important to have an experienced attorney at your side if you’ve been involved in a drunk driving accident and/or arrested for DUI.
What Constitutes “Driving Under the Influence” in Illinois?
The definition of “driving under the influence” applies not only to driving while impaired by alcohol but also other drugs including cannabis (marijuana) prescribed for medical purposes. In cases involving alcohol, a person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater is considered legally under the influence—this BAC limit has been in effect in Illinois since July 1997.
It’s important to note that even if a person is below the .08 limit, they can still be arrested for DUI. This is because alcohol and other drugs affect everyone differently. Factors like weight, body composition, gender, tolerance, mood and the amount of food consumed can all impact a person’s level of impairment.
Furthermore, if an officer has reason to believe a person is too impaired to drive—even if a breathalyzer test shows a BAC well below the limit—they could still be arrested.
Fines and Penalties for DUI
The cost of a DUI can be significant. From legal fees to court costs to increasing insurance rates to income loss, the average cost of a DUI in Illinois is $16,580. In cases involving significant injuries or fatalities, medical expenses alone can exceed $100,000.
To some degree, penalties will depend on the circumstances surrounding the arrest including factors such as:
- The driver’s age
- The driver’s BAC level
- Previous DUI convictions
- Who else was in the car (especially minor children)
- Injuries and/or fatalities resulting from a drunk driving accident
- Accidents Resulting From Drunk Driving
A DUI is complex in itself—an accident resulting from drunk driving adds yet another layer of complexity. Even in cases where no one was injured and the facts indicate that the person under the influence was not at fault for the accident, having alcohol or drugs in your system strengthens the other party’s case.
How An Attorney Can Protect You
A drunk driving accident and DUI charge can have a significant and long-lasting impact on your life. You could have your license suspended or revoked, face fines, jail time and other penalties. Also, a DUI could seriously impact your ability to work and negatively impact future job prospects, personal relationships, and psychological health.
Therefore, if you’ve been involved in a drunk driving accident, a skilled attorney with knowledge of the law pertaining to drunk driving accidents may be able to reduce or eliminate jail time, reduce your DUI charges, prevent the suspension or revocation of your license, reduce your fines and help you avoid trial.
Contact the experienced attorneys at Marc J. Shuman & Associates, LTD. for a free consultation today.