Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm remind the public to take every precaution this Halloween weekend on the roadways and out in urban areas. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is partnering with the State Police in cracking down on drunk driving starting on Thursday, October 31 and lasting throughout the weekend.
The Illinois Transportation Secretary stated that the only way to avoid a DUI this year is by securing a safe and sober ride home beforehand. Since 2008, about 20 people have died in Illinois alone in auto accidents on Halloween day, seven of which involved a drunk driver. Another 1,284 people were injured in the state in Halloween alcohol-related crashes.
How to Stay Safe
- IDOT released a short list of ways drivers and party-goers can avoid DUIs and drunk driving crashes this year:
- First, as mentioned above, plan in advance to have a safe way home
- If you must drive, before you start drinking, designate someone who will abstain completely from alcohol and drugs to drive
- Should you or your sober driver drink too much, have a taxi number on-hand, call a friend or family member, or use public transportation to get home
- Some communities offer a Sober Rides program, information can be found here
If you see a driver who is driving unsafely or is clearly impaired, do not hesitate to call 911 or otherwise contact local law enforcement. You may save a life.
New Illinois Traffic Laws
Several new laws and regulations went into effect on January 1, 2013 aimed at increasing safety on state roadways. The first piece of legislation, Senate Bill 2488, forbids drivers from using cell phones in construction and maintenance speed zones. However, drivers can still use voice-operated phones (through headsets, Bluetooth, or single-button activation).
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The second bill, House Bill 5101, makes texting or manually using a cell phone while driving a serious traffic violation with significant fines. Before 2013, Illinois law prohibited texting while driving, though cell phones were allowed. The maximum penalty for fully-licensed drivers who are caught texting and driving is $75 for first offenders. Subsequent offences carry fines of $100, $125, and $150.
Just one state over, the fine jumps to $500; in Alaska, the maximum penalty is $10,000 and one year in prison even for first-time offenders. Only four states do not have bans on texting while driving at all: Montana, South Dakota, South Carolina, and Arizona.
The third law recently enacted in Illinois, Senate Bill 3409, allows drivers involved in crashes that did not cause any bodily harm to push vehicles off highways to a safe location. The safe location must be as close to the crash scene as possible, such as an exit ramp, frontage road, or somewhere that will not obstruct traffic. Drivers will still have to remain at that location until the investigation and insurance processes have been completed.
Too often, crashes cause obstructions on the roadway and lead to other secondary crashes that can be even more catastrophic than the original accident. Thus, the decisions made in the minutes immediately after a crash are extremely important, and the new law clarifies that it is legal to move vehicles to a safe place.
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Our team of car accident lawyers works with victims of alcohol-related crashes very frequently, and we know first-hand that risking drinking and driving, even on holidays, is simply not worth it. We have over two decades of experience working with victims of car, truck, bus, and motorcycle accidents, and can help you get the compensation you need for your medical bills and property damage. Contact our skilled auto accident attorneys today for a free, no-obligation legal consultation.