Even with aggressive laws and media scrutiny over the devastating results of drinking and driving, thousands of deaths and injuries still occur due to that conduct every year. When a drunk driver causes a Chicago auto accident, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC remain committed to holding the driver fully accountable and legally responsible for our client's injuries.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), driving while intoxicated or impaired killed over 10,000 people in 2010, accounting for 28% of auto fatalities. If you, or a loved one, have been seriously injured or killed by a drunk driver, we are here to help. Our Chicago drunk driving injury lawyers has successfully prosecuted alcohol-related auto accidents across many counties in Illinois.
Illinois Laws to Prevent Drunk Driving & Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
In 2016, Illinois had 272 fatalities where the driver was over the legal limit for blood alcohol content (DUI). This represented 25% of all crash fatalities. Although Illinois enforces the clear, concise laws against drinking and driving, catastrophic tragedies still occur. Since 1995, Illinois has enforced its “Zero Tolerance Law” involving underage drinking and driving. This means no amount of alcohol is allowed for those under the age of 21 who are behind the wheel. For those of legal drinking age, here is how the law defines intoxicated driving.
- Driving with a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.08%. 625 ILCS 5/11-501 (a)(1).
- Driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol or any combination such that the driver cannot reasonably or safely operate the vehicle. 625 ILCS 5/11-501 (a)(1)-(6).
Importantly, Illinois law provides that even legal consumption of drugs or alcohol does not permit intoxicated driving. 625 ILCS 5/11-501 (b). In other words, drivers must exercise extreme caution when consuming these substances and operating motor vehicles.
Prominent Role of Alcohol in Illinois Traffic Accident Cases
Regardless if the motorist receives a citation for driving while under the influence of alcohol, if they are to blame for a car accident, they can be held civilly liable. The fact that they were drinking may be used to show negligence in the case. One of our experienced attorneys can build a strong case proving the drunk driver's negligence by using police reports, expert testimony and witness accounts.
How Common are Alcohol-Related Traffic Accidents?
Traffic accidents related to alcohol and drugs are incredibly common in America, especially Illinois. Millions of people are pulled over for driving under the influence each year. This equates to thousands of accidents, deaths, and injuries. Illinois bears a large brunt of this trend. Here are some more pertinent facts on alcohol-related traffic incidents.
- Each year, America suffers 10,000 deaths due to intoxicated driving.
- Intoxicated driving accounts for nearly 20% of all childhood deaths.
- Around 1 million people are pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence.
- The police are only able to capture about 1% of all intoxicated drivers.
- Nearly 500,000 people drive under the influence daily.
- Repeat offenders make up 33% of all those caught for driving while intoxicated.
- Since 1980, the number of deaths related to drunk driving has been reduced by almost 50%.
- Drunk driving costs the American economy hundreds of billions of dollars every year.
- Drunk driving deaths normally occur at night and during the weekend.
- Receiving a DUI can cost you as much as $20,000 for legal and other fees.
What is Considered Drunk Driving in Illinois?
In Illinois, drunk driving is defined as operating or controlling a vehicle with an alcohol concentration greater than 0.08% in the person’s blood or breath. See 625 ILCS 5/11-501. However, there is a general catch-all provision that cops can use as well. You can be pulled over and arrested for drunk driving if you are under the influence and incapable of safely driving the vehicle. This is a subjective determination made by the police officer.
Note, you might also be convicted of driving while intoxicated by other illegal or legal substances. The key is whether such drugs removed your ability to drive safely. 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(3)-(6).
Drunk driving carries stiff penalties in Illinois. First, you might serve jail time. Second, you can be ordered to pay fines. Third, you may lose your right to drive. The exact punishment depends on the nature of the crime.
Does Illinois Have Laws Regarding Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana or Other Drugs?
Yes, Illinois has criminalized driving under the influence of marijuana and other drugs. It focuses on those drugs listed in Illinois and Federal controlled substances acts. Yet, in most cases, the state does not have a zero-tolerance rule. In other words, you are not in trouble for merely having marijuana or another drug in your system. Similar to alcohol, it adopted a tier-based approach to liability. Fault does not accrue until you pass some threshold of concentration. Here is how that limit is set in Illinois.
- The type of intoxicant consumed.
- The physical makeup for the driver.
- The concentration within the body.
- The driver’s ability to reasonably and safely drive or control the vehicle.
Can I sue the Intoxicated Driver if I am Injured due to Their Negligence?
Yes, Illinois law allows claims for damages arising out of drunk driving accidents. The victims can bring either negligence or wrongful death lawsuits. The former state claims for unreasonable conduct that damages plaintiffs. The latter describe actions for the harm and loss following a death. Both forms of cases compensate plaintiffs for economic and non-economic injuries. The specific recovery available depends on the incident. Here is a checklist to see if you can bring a lawsuit against an intoxicated driver.
- Was the driver driving under the influence?
- Were you injured in the accident?
- Was someone else responsible for the incident?
- Were you at all responsible for the incident?
- Did you suffer actual economic or non-economic damages?
How Long do I Have to File a Lawsuit Related to Injuries Sustained in a Drunk Driving Accident in Illinois?
In Illinois, you have two years to file a lawsuit for personal injuries stemming from a drunk driving accident. See 735 ILCS 5/13-202 (2010). You have five years to bring a case for any property damage that came from the same incident. See 735 ILCS 5/13-205(2010).
What Types of Financial Compensation can I Recover if my Family Member was Seriously Injured or Killed in an Accident in Chicago?
Illinois allows plaintiffs to recover compensation for all injuries that arise out of a drunk driving accident. This primarily covers out-of-pocket losses like medical bills, lost wages, and property damages. It also includes intangible harms such as pain, suffering, disability, and disfigurement. If someone dies because of the crash, family and loved ones can recover wrongful death damages. This category of compensation reimburses victim for the expense, pain, and grief that the passing caused. Finally, punitive damages may be available too. Plaintiffs seek these when the defendant’s actions are particularly reckless.
What Have Other Plaintiffs Recovered in Illinois DUI Accident Lawsuits?
$6,062,253 Drunk Driving Accident; Cook County, Illinois
The victim here (a teenage female) was traveling along Harlem road. The defendant was driving on Forest Hills. They were not far from Loves Park. He ran a red light and plowed right into the side of her. She passed away due to the injuries she sustained that night. The man was taken into custody. Eventually, he would get a jail sentence of at least ten years. The woman was survived by multiple family members. They brought a lawsuit against the man for wrongful death. Their suit argues that but for his actions she still would have been alive. She had the right of way. He ran the red light and hit her. Plus, reports showed that he was high and twice the legal limit for alcohol consumption (0.157). The only issue at trial was damages. In the end, the final number ended up being $6,062,253. Here is how that figure was apportioned.
- $3,063,253 for economic damages.
- $50,000 for pain/suffering.
- $3,000,000 for punitive damages.
- $12,253 for burial/funeral costs.
$1,695,726 Drunk Driving Accident; Lake County, Illinois
This events of this story started happily but ended tragically. A group in Northern Illinois was headed up town for a fishing trip. They left in the late hours of the night. Their ride took them along Route 173. At the same time, an intoxicated driver fell asleep. He crossed the median and crashed right into them. All of the passengers and driver of that car suffered serious injuries. Leo Mach had it the worse though. He was only 47 at the time of the crash. He was a truck driver, though unemployed at the time. The authorities airlifted him to a nearby hospital. He stayed there for several months. The incident left him with many injuries. He broke some ribs. He cracked his spine. In his time at the hospital, he even developed bed sores. Eventually, all the men sued the intoxicated driver. He was actually already in jail. He plead guilty and was serving time for manslaughter. The only contested case was the suit that the estate brought. In the end, it secured a $1,150,706 judgment. Here is how that money was divided up.
- $857,863 for economic damages.
- $577,863 for medical bills.
- $90,000 for suffering and pain.
- $40,000 for disfigurement.
- $150,000 for lost normal life.
- $150,000 for lost consortium.
$1,012,000 Drunk Driving Accident; Johnson County, Illinois
This case involved a warden and a correctional officer but not in the way you think. Both of them were driving late at night when their car unexpectedly went off the road. They were near Vienna on route 147. The car went right into a tree. Who was driving was a matter of controversy in the subsequent case. Anyways, the officer was a male and 48 years old. He died soon after the crash. He suffered injuries to his head, liver, and other parts of his body. They proved to be fatal. Later, his family sued the warden. The family included a wife and several kids. They said he was driving drunk and responsible for the officer’s death. This was the story that the jury believed. They returned a verdict for the family. It included $1 million for wrongful death damages. Also, it supplied $12,000 for funeral expenses.
$6,500,000 Intoxicated Driving Accident; McHenry County, Illinois
This dispute was a family ordeal and not in a good way. The family included a young wife, husband, and child. The kid was just 3 years old at the time of the crash. They were all in their pickup truck on Route 47 in Huntley. Suddenly, a semi slammed right into them. The force sent their truck into another and a pile-up occurred. The wife died. The father broke bones in his face, elbow, foot, and even had a collapsed lung. The child broke bones in his leg, forehead, and ankle. The driver responsible for the crash, the semi driver, was high on weed at the time. Lawyers for the family went after him and the business he worked for. They argued the latter did not properly screen, test, or monitor its drivers. They sought compensated from each of them for wrongful death and negligence. Their various claims were not tested by a jury though. The matter settled for $6.5 million. Of that amount, $4.7 million was for the death of the mom. $1.5 million was for the injuries of the father. Finally, $300,000 was for the kid’s losses.
Chicago Auto Accident Attorneys Ready to Hold Intoxicated Motorists Fully Responsible for Their Acts
If a drunk driver has injured you, or someone in your family was injured or lost their life due to this criminal act, our Illinois drunk driving accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help you recover financial damages for your loss or injury. Contact us. We are willing to meet with you, free of charge, to discuss your case and determine the best course of action for your situation. We work on a contingency basis, so there is no fee to you unless we obtain a financial award in your case.