There are few accidents that are as tragic as those involving drunk drivers. Driving under the influence is considered a serious crime, but remains a problem throughout the country. In Illinois, 33.2 percent of fatal crashes involved alcohol in 2013, making it one of the leading causes for fatal car accidents. On average, ten people are arrested every night in Chicago for driving under the influence.
Illinois Laws and Penalties for Drunk Driving
Any amount of alcohol can impair a driver, but Illinois DUI laws do allow a limited blood-alcohol content (BAC) to be present before being issued a DUI. Drivers over the age of 21 may have up to .08 percent BAC, with the exception of commercial drivers who are restricted to .04 percent BAC. There is zero tolerance for drivers under the age of 21 and any amount of alcohol in the system is considered a DUI. Drivers may be issued DUIs even if they are within the legal limits if their driving behavior suggests impairment. Anyone who refuses to submit to a breathalyzer test will have their license suspended in Illinois.
Penalties for DUIs can be steep. As a first time offender, you could face up to a 1 year jail time and a minimum 1 year license suspension. Second time offenders could have their license suspended for a minimum 3 years and face 1 year of jail time. Third time offenders have their license suspended at least 10 years and may receive 3 to 7 years in jail. In addition, first, second, and third time offenders can receive a fine of up to $2,500.
Under certain circumstances, DUIs will lead to felony charges in Illinois, resulting in more serious penalties. Some examples of what would constitute an aggravated DUI charge would include any time the accident results in death, permanent disability or disfigurement, or if a child under 16 is injured.
Injuries Related to Drunk Driving Accidents
The types of injuries sustained in drunk driving accidents are similar to those of other motor vehicle accidents. Unfortunately the nature of the injuries is usually more severe in cases involving alcohol and drunk drivers are responsible for approximately 40 percent of traffic-related injuries. Injuries that are common in drunk driving accidents include:
- Back and spinal injuries;
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injury;
- Bone fractures; and
- Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash.
A significant number of drunk driving accidents, of course, result in death.
Compensation Available to Victims in Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving accidents often lead to severe injuries and even death. In fact, in the U.S. drunk driving accidents are responsible for 31 percent of all traffic-related fatalities. Victims and their families are entitled to compensation in Illinois for their losses. Depending on the case, victims may seek recompense for a variety of expenses and damages including:
- Medical expenses including hospitalization, physical therapy, prescriptions, and rehabilitation;
- Property damages related to the crash;
- Lost income due to the inability to work or earn wages; and
- Pain and suffering.
Because drunk driving accidents are serious and the legal issues involved in calculating fair compensation, these type of cases typically require the assistance of an attorney.
Preventing Drunk Driving Accidents
When it comes to drunk driving accidents a big emphasis must be placed on prevention. While educational programs and law enforcement can help, a large amount of the responsibility falls on individuals. If you are planning on drinking, have a designated driver, use public transport or a taxi to return home.