Abels & Annes

Family of Chicago DUI Victim Asks for Felony Charges

The family of a woman killed in a 2007 drunk-driving accident is pushing for felony DUI charges against the two motorists involved in the accident. According to CBS 7 Chicago, the woman was a passenger on a motorcycle operated by Eugene Bikulcius when a car driven by Carol Miller made an illegal left turn into their path. The two on the motorcycle were coming from a bar, and the pattern of the accident suggested that they were traveling at a high speed. Miller was arrested the night of the accident for misdemeanor DUI, but Bikulcius was not.

The victim’s family suggests that Bikulcius wasn’t charged because he was an off-duty Chicago police officer. In fact, according to the report, Bikulcius wasn’t charged with any crime or breath-tested the night of the accident. It was only after several months of intervention by the victim’s family that the state’s attorney in the case found a hospital blood test showing a blood-alcohol concentration of three times the legal limit, and charged him with misdemeanor DUI. The family believes a felony DUI charge would be more appropriate, since felony charges are usually filed in a DUI case involving a death. But the state’s attorney told the station that an inadequate investigation left them without the evidence they needed for the more serious charge.

Regardless of whether this officer — who is now on paid leave and relieved of duty — is truly the beneficiary of police interference, drinking and driving is always a bad idea. As a Chicago car accident lawyer, I am generally sympathetic to motorcyclists in this type of accident. A car turning left in front of a motorcycle is one of the most common car-motorcycle crash patterns, and it’s often caused by the driver’s failure to look carefully for traffic. However, a BAC reading of 0.24 (three times the 0.08 limit in Illinois) makes a DUI charge appropriate in this case.

Whether that BAC caused or contributed to the crash is a different story, and may never be known. I can only imagine how upset this family must feel that the investigation of this deadly accident was deemed “inadequate.” When law enforcement can’t or won’t make a criminal case in an accident like this, families can also choose to pursue justice through the civil courts, with a Chicago auto accident lawsuit. In addition to holding a wrongdoer responsible for his or her actions, a legal claim can help families deal with the practical consequences of their loss — medical bills, burial costs, loss of an income and compensation for the loss of a beloved sister and daughter. If you or someone you love is in this situation and you’d like to know more, you can contact Abels & Annes for a free consultation about your rights and your case.