Driving under the influence of alcohol and without a proper license is likely to lead to serious and even deadly consequences. Recently, news reports indicate that a 20-year-old father seriously injured his entire family when he drove drunk and crashed into a Metra train at a train crossing in Elgin. The man was charged with illegal consumption of alcohol, driving too fast for road conditions, driving without a valid driver’s license, and operating an uninsured car that caused bodily harm.
As Illinois car accident attorneys often faced with these types of cases, we would like to emphasize that drunk driving is one of the greatest threats to road safety. In this case, the man’s 19-year-old pregnant wife, their 5-year-old son and 14-month-year-old daughter were injured. While the driver himself got away with minor injuries, his pregnant wife was held at the hospital for observation and his little girl was still hospitalized in stable condition at the time of the report. Although there was not a loss of life in this particular case, the physical injuries sustained by the young family may never completely heal. Additionally, the emotional trauma of being in this terrible crash could last a lifetime.
Illinois is one of the states that have been most successful in reducing the number of drunk driving deaths in recent years. The 2012 DUI Fact Book reports that drunk driving deaths on Illinois roadways have declined by 38 percent since 1999. Illinois also received the highest rating possible from the national office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in 2011, a tribute to the state’s successful education programs for the public and stern action against violators. According to the Illinois DUI Fact Book, in 2010:
- Up to 436 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes, which was 47 percent of the 927 total crash fatalities.
- The Secretary of State’s office recorded 41,900 DUI arrests, with 92 percent of these drivers losing their driving privileges.
- 23 percent of those arrested for DUI are women • males ages 21-24 had the highest DUI arrest rate, almost five times greater than all other DUI arrests • First-time offenders constitute 85 percent of all drivers arrested for DUI
In Illinois, penalties for driving under influence vary according to the
circumstances of the arrest and conviction. Factors that are taken into
consideration typically include the driver’s age, the driver’s
blood alcohol concentration (BAC), whether the driver was transporting
a child under age 16, and whether the driver has previous DUI convictions.
In the Elgin car accident, the driver was responsible for injuring two children under the age of 16. Under Illinois law, he could face charges for aggravated DUI which includes the following offenses:
- DUI committed while transporting a child under age 16 and involved in a crash that resulted in bodily harm to the child
- DUI committed without a valid driver’s license or permit • DUI committed without vehicle liability insurance
Besides imprisonment and fines, the DUI conviction would become a permanent part of his driving record. His vehicle registration will be suspended and the vehicle impounded.
As an Illinois resident, you can make your state a safer place to live in by working to keep drunk drivers off the road. You should try to keep informed about legislation on the matter, report drunk drivers on the roadways, and partner with organizations that fight against this serious social problem. If you are injured in a car accident, our Chicago personal injury attorneys can offer you a free case evaluation so that you know your rights.