Have You Been Injured in a DUI Accident in Chicago?
The drunk driving accident lawyers at Abels & Annes take special care in fighting for clients who have serious injuries from the negligent acts of a drunk driver.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving calls it the most frequently committed violent crime in America. The evidence is clear that drunk driving is one of the leading causes of fatal car accidents in Chicago and across the state of Illinois.
In Illinois, any driver operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater is considered to be a drunk driver. This is true regardless of what type of motor vehicle the driver is operating. This means that DUI collisions can involve passenger cars, semi trucks, motorcycles, Ubers and Lyfts, and any other vehicle on the roads.
How Alcohol Affects Your Ability to Drive
Even though the legal limit is 0.08, the effects of alcohol can begin with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of just 0.02 percent. Here are just a few examples of how alcohol affects the body and one’s ability to drive:
Alcohol affects the part of the brain that controls judgment. When the brain needs to call on memories and experiences stored there—and do so quickly when faced with a problem—alcohol interferes and blocks or impairs a driver’s judgment.
The ability to see clearly is necessary to drive. Alcohol can impair a driver’s ability to focus, blur their vision, and cause double vision. The negative effect of alcohol on a driver’s vision can begin at a BAC of just 0.02 percent.
Alcohol hinders the ability to process information. It can leave a driver feeling drowsy and unable to react in time to avoid a collision.
Important road signs, highway markers, and traffic signals rely on colors to signify when it is safe to turn, go, or stop. Alcohol makes it difficult to distinguish colors. This places other drivers at risk for a drunk driver who fails to yield or who runs a red light.
Even a small amount of alcohol can impair your ability to concentrate while driving. Driving requires multitasking, such as watching for hazards, checking your mirrors, monitoring your vehicle’s speed and position, and watching other traffic on the road. All of these acts require concentration that can be impaired by DUI.
Being intoxicated can affect your ability to interpret road signals, signs, and situations. Intoxicated drivers may more easily run red lights or stop signs, drift into the wrong lane, drive in the wrong lane, or drive the wrong way down a one-way street.
When intoxicated, you lose hand-eye coordination, making simple tasks like putting your key into the ignition or walking to your car more difficult. If these tasks alone are difficult, you should definitely not be driving. When your fine and gross motor skills are affected, driving a car safely is not possible.
Your ability to judge your own position and the position of other vehicles on the road (called tracking) is greatly impaired by excessive alcohol consumption. Drinking also makes it much more difficult to stay within the lines and to judge turns correctly due to an impairment in your ability to track objects.
DUI Awareness Campaigns Can be Ineffective
Public safety campaigns sometimes do little to deter those drivers who believe one or more of the following outcomes:
- They won’t get caught by law enforcement.
- An accident won’t happen to them.
- They live close by and can make it home safely.
- There is no other way of getting home.
- They are invincible.
Research shows that alcohol can actually cause drivers to feel invincible. If you experience serious injuries due to a driver who felt invincible and decided to drive drunk, you deserve justice. Their careless actions can result in physical, financial, and emotional stress for you and your family. Learn about your options to pursue civil litigation by contacting Abels & Annes today.
A Drunk Driver Can Change Your Life
No matter how defensively you drive, a drunk driver can appear out of nowhere. Whether it is a head-on collision, a side-impact crash, or a rear-end collision, the impact can be sudden and traumatic. Drunk driving accidents leave many patients with serious, and sometimes catastrophic, injuries that leave victims with extensive medical bills.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines a traumatic brain injury as a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or a penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function. Patients with severe TBI may need around-the-clock care, resulting in thousands of dollars every month.
- Spinal cord injury – When the spinal cord becomes injured due to a car accident, the result can be some form of paralysis. Patients often require expensive power chairs, home modifications, and accessible transportation. The need for replacing an accessible vehicle or power chair throughout the years is costly and financially stressful.
- Broken bones – With more than 200 bones in the human body, a drunk driving collision may leave you with more than one broken bone. Multiple broken bones can require future surgeries, extensive physical therapy, and assistance with daily tasks.
- Internal injuries – The injuries that exhibit no visible signs or symptoms are especially dangerous and often life-threatening. Even if you feel fine immediately following an accident, always accept medical transport to a hospital. Only a doctor using medical tests and imaging equipment can provide a proper diagnosis.
A drunk driver may walk away from the accident scene without a scratch. Meanwhile, you require immediate medical transport to a hospital or trauma center.
Drunk Driving Crash Attorneys in Chicago
A drunk driver may walk away from the accident scene without a scratch. Meanwhile, you require immediate medical transport to a hospital or trauma center.
Experiencing serious injuries due to a drunk driver isn’t your fault, and it isn’t fair. The Chicago injury lawyers at Abels & Annes encourage any DUI accident victim to seek a free consultation from one of our experienced car accident attorneys.
Drivers who cause DUI accidents often face serious criminal charges. They also can and should be held civilly responsible.
Our legal team will work with you to seek just compensation from drunk drivers and their insurance companies.
Some people may not realize that they do not have to be in a vehicle to have a claim against a drunk driver. If you sustain injuries from a drunk driver while riding a motorcycle, or as a pedestrian, bicyclist, you may have a claim.
It is also possible to make a claim against the driver of a vehicle you were riding in if that driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Drunk Driving Accident Statistics
Here are some drunk driving statistics that help to put the scope of the problem into focus.
- One in every seven DUI fatalities in 2008 was someone under the age of 21 (and thus not even old enough to drink).
- One-third of drivers ages 25 to 34 who were killed in fatal accidents were intoxicated.
- Drunk drivers were responsible for 10,228 fatalities 2010, including 211 children. Of the 211 children, 161 (62%) were in the same vehicle as the drunk driver.
- Of the 568 driver fatalities in Illinois in 2011, 108 had blood alcohol levels of .08 to .20. Further, an additional 52 had blood alcohol levels in excess of .20.
- Somewhere in America, someone dies every 51 minutes as a result of the careless and senseless acts of a drunk driver.
- In 2010, sixteen percent of all drivers in fatal crashes during the week were DUI. This, compared to 31 percent on the weekends.
How Common is Drinking & Driving in Illinois?
Our Chicago DUI accident lawyers know it’s way too common. The following are 2018 DUI statistics from the Illinois Secretary of State’s office:
- There were 291 fatalities in DUI crashes. This is around 28 percent of the accident deaths in our state.
- There were 26,386 drunk driving arrests.
- 90% of those with DUI arrests lost their right to drive.
- The highest drunk driving arrest rate belongs to Males, age 21-24. Just under 1 percent of this age group was arrested.
- Only 26 percent of DUI arrests were for women.
- 86 percent of those facing charges were first time offenders.
- 363 drivers age 21 and under lost driving privileges due to the Illinois zero tolerance law, 79 drivers in Cook County alone.
- DUIs make up 27 percent of the total crash fatalities in Illinois.
Statistics About Drunk Drivers
- One of every ten binge drinkers admit to driving the last time they consumed 5 or more drinks.
- The average DUI driver has driven drunk 80 times before their first arrest.
- Studies have shown that approximately 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license.
Who is the Average DUI Offender?
The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office reports the following about your average DUI offender:
- 74% of those arrested are men
- 34 is the average age, and 52% are age 35 and under
- Many are partying on the weekend, 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.
- Driving with a BAC twice the illegal limit, .16 on average.
Chicago’s DUI Problem
The statistics are clear:
- Drunk drivers are responsible for huge numbers of fatal car accidents, particularly on the weekends.
- Police rarely catch drunk drivers.
- DUI is also more common on holidays and holiday weekends.
- Motorists should always be cautious and on the lookout for drunk drivers, and drive defensively.
These scary facts add up to 2 points:
- We need to do more to curb drunk driving
- Those who drive drunk should be held responsible for their actions
What is being done about drunk driving in Illinois?
Because drunk driving is such a danger to everybody, most states including Illinois, have put in place programs and initiatives to stop DUI and drugged driving.
The strategies are effective for reducing or preventing drunk driving. Some of the strategies being used include: harsh penalties and zero tolerance laws, sobriety checkpoints, ignition interlocks for DUI offenders, mass media campaigns, and instructional programs at schools.
Drunk driving laws make it illegal nationwide to drive with a BAC at or above 0.08%. For people under 21, “zero tolerance” laws like the law in Illinois make it illegal to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. These laws are a very effective deterrent and are credited with saving tens of thousands of lives since their implementation.
Sobriety checkpoints allow police to briefly stop vehicles at specific, highly visible locations to see if the driver is impaired. These checkpoints are commonly administered on traditionally heavy drinking nights like holidays. Or they may be randomly placed in problem areas.
Ignition interlocks are installed in the cars of those who have offended before to measure alcohol on the driver’s breath before turning the engine on. This prevents people who regularly drink and drive from even having the option.
Mass media campaigns around Illinois spread messages about the physical dangers and legal consequences of drunk driving.
Instructional programs at schools are effective at teaching teens not to ride with drunk drivers. However, it is unclear if they reduce drunk driving overall.
Drunk Driving Penalties in Illinois
A first offense of DUI in Illinois is a Class A misdemeanor and has a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and a mandatory minimum 100 hours of community service.
A second conviction is also a Class A misdemeanor and has a mandatory minimum imprisonment of 5 days or 240 hours of community service. Plus, driving privileges are revoked for a minimum of 5 years if the second conviction is within 20 years of the first. It also includes fines and fees.
Any DUI offense after that within a certain time frame is considered an aggravated DUI, which results in felony charges, has a mandatory term of imprisonment or community service, loss of driving privileges, and large fines.
Illinois Zero Tolerance Law
Drivers under age 21 with any trace of alcohol in their system violate the Illinois Zero Tolerance Law. If caught, they will lose their driving privileges as well as face serious additional penalties.
Illinois law also can hold a parent liable when a parent allows a minor to drink at the parent’s home, and the minor goes out and gets into a DUI accident, injuring others. For obvious reasons, the penalties for underage drinkers who drive are severe.
Illinois’s Liquor Control Act (“Dram Shop Act”)
It is illegal for an establishment to knowingly sell alcohol to a minor or a drunk person, or to over serve a patron. This is known as the Dram Shop Act or Liquor Control Act. If a liquor store does sell alcohol to a minor or person intoxicated, they can be held liable for any motor vehicle accident caused by that intoxicated person. This law is designed to put some of the responsibility on business owners who sell alcohol to anyone that will buy it, regardless of the consequences to our community.
However, unfortunately in Illinois the civil liabilities under the dram shop laws are very limited compared to many other states. Damage awards for injuries and death are capped at only $72,671.25 for accidents occurring after January 20, 2021. Further, awards for loss of support and consortium are limited to $88,820.41. The awards increase over time with rates of inflation, but they pale in comparison to other states that have no caps on damages.
Legal Help For Drunk Driving Accident Victims
Just like any car accident in Chicago, the facts and circumstances may determine what avenues of compensation are available to those who are suffering from injuries because of a drunk driver. DUI-related injury victims can obtain financial compensation for the damages they suffer.
Victims injured by drunk drivers (or their families) can recover compensation for damages caused by the collision. These include economic and non-economic damages, as well as punitive damages and wrongful death damages.
Economic damages are damages from an accident that have a monetary figure assigned to them. These include medical bills, past and future lost wages, vehicle repairs, and any other direct costs caused by a drunk driver’s actions.
Non-economic damages cover damages that do not have a clear financial number attached to them but that still caused the victim to lose something. This includes pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity, loss of companionship, permanent disability or disfigurement, and loss of quality of life.
Punitive damages are awarded when an accident occurs because of gross and serious negligence. They are rare, but they do happen. In the case of a drunk driving accident, punitive damages may be awarded to the plaintiff if the defendant had an abnormally high BAC or if they’ve been convicted of DUI multiple times.
Wrongful Death Damages
Wrongful death damages are awarded in cases where a loved one passes away because of a drunk driving accident. In this case, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. You can usually claim both economic and non-economic damages in a wrongful death claim.
Even though no amount of compensation can ever be adequate, it can help bring a sense of justice. When someone dies due to another’s negligence, and then that victim’s family is now suffering from an inability to pay their bills or financial ruin, it is a tragedy.
Contact a Chicago Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
The personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes believe in fighting for the rights of DUI victims. If you have injuries from the negligence of a drunk driver, we want to fight for you.
We offer free consultations without obligation. Further, there is no attorney’s fee unless you win your case. Call us toll free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO (529-2442) or locally at (312) 924-7575.