Drunk Driving Accidents: Still A Common Cause Of Death & Injury

drunk driving accidents

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.

Open Container Laws: What You Need To Know

open container laws

Understanding open container laws in Illinois can help you to avoid making a mistake that could cost you a decent amount of money. Open container laws describe both alcohol and marijuana. Therefore, if you have a medical marijuana card or have a passenger with one, you need to understand how the law pertains to this as well.

While penalties for violating open container laws are not as severe as they are for more serious crimes such as a DUI, they can still be quite expensive. Plus, you could also be facing jail time in some cases.

These Laws Are Meant To Help Curb Drunk Driving

What is the purpose of open container laws? The purpose is to help reduce the incidence of drunk driving. The logic here is pretty simple. If you make it illegal for drivers to possess an open container, you help to remove the temptation to take a drink.

Is this a perfect system? No, but given the number of alcohol-related automobile fatalities that occur each year, anything that can be done to reduce the incidence of drunk driving is a good thing.

What Are The Requirements Under The Law?

By law, any container of alcohol or marijuana in a car must be sealed. The seal has to be a tamper-evident seal. What happens if you leave a restaurant and have an open bottle of wine? You certainly don’t want to throw away a great bottle of wine. But, you also don’t want to violate any open container laws.

Fortunately, the law allows for a workaround here. If you are taking an open bottle of wine home then that wine can be sealed in a tamper-evident bag by the restaurant. If you have your open bottle of wine in a tamper-evident bag, and you have a dated receipt for the wine, you shouldn’t have any issues regarding the violation of open container laws.

Are There Any Exceptions?

There are some exceptions that allow for an open container of alcohol to be in a motor vehicle without the law being broken. The most notable exception is in the case of limos, chartered buses, and motorhomes.

In these types of vehicles, it is legal to have an open container of alcohol, so long as that open container is not in the driver compartment of the vehicle.

What Are The Penalties For Violating Open Container Laws?

Like any other law, there are penalties for violating open container laws. Violating an open container law for the first time is usually a petty offense with a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine.

A second violation of an open container law within a year of the first violation could result in additional fines. Plus, up to a year of receiving a driver’s license suspension. In the event of medical marijuana, violating open container laws carries up to a $2,5000 fine. Plus, up to 1 year in jail.

As you can see, the penalties for both alcohol and marijuana open container violations are significant. Therefore, you definitely want to avoid having to face them.

Interlock Devices For Cars

interlock devices for cars

Interlock devices for cars save lives. They save the lives of people that might make the mistake of drinking and driving. They save the lives of the passengers that would be in those cars. Plus, they save the lives of other people that would be on the roads.

While an ignition interlock device is often viewed as a punishment by people who are forced to have one installed in their car, it’s a punishment that has a purpose. Instead of just punishing someone for the mistake that they made, it helps to prevent them from making that same mistake again.

What is an ignition interlock device? It’s a device that is placed in a car that measures the blood alcohol level of someone when they blow into it. If their blood alcohol level is too high, they will not be able to start their car.

How do ignition interlock devices for cars save lives? They save lives by helping to keep drunk drivers off the road.

How Interlock Devices For Cars Save Lives

Ignition interlock devices are ordered for any driver who is found to be driving while over the legal limit. This is in addition to whatever other penalties the state decides to impose. How do these devices save lives? They save lives by keeping drunk drivers off the road.

People who have already been convicted of drinking and driving are more likely to make the same mistake again. In fact, when the average drunk driver is caught and convicted, it’s rarely their first time drinking and driving.

Because many drunk drivers have a habit of driving impaired they cannot be trusted to not do it again even though they know that they will face additional consequences if they’re caught. An ignition interlock device removes the chance of them making the same mistake by making drunk driving impossible for them.

How Interlock Devices Help Drunk Drivers To Break Their Bad Habit

Not only will an interlock device prevent a drunk driver from starting their car, but it will also record the failed test. This recording of a failed test will reveal to authorities that the person in question attempted to drink and drive when the device is removed from their car.

This information can then be used to subject this person to additional criminal penalties. Since people know about this when the interlock devices are installed, it helps them to make better decisions. They understand that a failed test will result in more severe penalties for them.

What To Do If You Are A Victim Of A Drunk Driving Accident

drunk driving accident

If you’re the victim of a drunk driving accident, you should exercise your rights and file a lawsuit to help cover any damages to property, lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering you endured as a result. Drunk drivers are a threat to everyone on the road.

Every day 29 people are killed in a car accident involving a drunk driver [1]. If you are reading this you are one of the lucky ones who survived, but you probably don’t feel very lucky right now.

After you have been treated by a doctor and are on the road to recovery, you should hold the drunk driver who caused your accident accountable by filing a lawsuit. While they will be facing criminal charges, you should also make sure that they pay civil penalties. You’ve been hurt by someone acting recklessly, and you deserve to be compensated.

What Should You Do Immediately After A Drunk Driving Accident?

The first thing you should do, if you’re conscious, is to call 9-1-1 after a drunk driving accident. Drunk drivers frequently flee the scene of an accident since they know that they’ll be facing criminal and civil penalties for driving while under the influence.

While your health is priority number 1, you also want to take steps to protect your rights. There’s no reason that the person drinking and driving should have been on the road. In fact, you’re lucky that he or she didn’t kill you. Now is the time to protect your rights, and you start by calling 9-1-1 to involve law enforcement.

Hire A Lawyer To Protect Your Rights

When you are in a car accident with a drunk driver, you are the victim. They had no business being behind the wheel and in all likelihood, they were the ones who probably caused the accident. Right now, you’d be going about your life like you always do if not for this person driving while drunk.

You’d be going to work, running errands, and going out with friends. But instead, you are hurt, your car is wrecked and your bills are piling up. None of this is your fault, so why should you be paying the price for it?

If the insurance company for the other driver or his lawyer contact you, never speak with them directly. They may act nice, but the truth is that they will try to use anything you say, against you.

They may also offer you a settlement in an attempt to get you to avoid going to a lawyer. Before you think about accepting a settlement, ask yourself, why are they offering you money? They are offering you money because they feel that your case has merit and that if you were to file a lawsuit, you would likely be awarded far more than they are offering.

The bottom line is that as the victim of a drunk driver, you have the right to fair compensation for damages you suffered and a good lawyer can help you to exercise that right.

Contact the experienced attorneys at Marc J. Shuman & Associates, LTD. for a free consultation today.

Sources: https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/dsd_a118.pdf

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html

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