One out of every three fatal traffic crashes in 2008 was alcohol related, according to statistics released this month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In fact, Mothers Against Drunk Driving calls DUI the most frequently committed violent crime in the United States.
Nationwide, fatal alcohol-related crashes dropped from 13,041 in 2007 to 11,773 in 2008.
And, while alcohol-involved traffic fatalities in Illinois also declined, from 1,248 in 2007 to 1,043 in 2008, the overall rate of alcohol fatalities was slightly higher than the national average.
Alcohol-related fatal crashes are four-times more likely to occur at night than during the day and 1.5 times more likely to occur on the weekend.
The Chicago personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes urge you to take this issue seriously, use a designated driver, call a cab or stay where you are if you have had too much to drink.
Those driving late at night — particularly on the weekend — should also be vigilant in watching for and avoiding erratic drivers.
As part of its Summer Safe Driving series, Abels & Annes looks at some of the issues surrounding drunk driving in Illinois.
Illinois has taken some tough steps to combat drunk driving: On Jan. 1 it became one of only six states to require a first-time DUI offender to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devices installed on his or her vehicle as a condition of gaining driving privileges.
Illinois offers a DUI Factbook where motorists can get a host of information on the state’s DUI laws, penalties and programs to combat drunk driving. According to the book, the state’s legal limit of .08 would be surpassed by a 170 pound man consuming four drinks in one hour or a 137 pound woman consuming three drinks in an hour.
A drink is defined as a can of beer, glass of wine or shot of liquor.
A shocking 86 percent of drivers who failed a breath test in 2007 tested between .10 and .24, which is three-times the legal limit.
Additionally, the state reports a person’s risk of having a crash begins to increase significantly at .04 — half the legal limit — and increases substantially thereafter.
Common remedies like fresh air, coffee, food or a shower will not help a person get sober.
The state’s 2007 statistics reports 2 of every 5 traffic fatalities are alcohol related.
• 503 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes, which was 40 percent of the 1,249 total crash fatalities.
• More than 49,600 DUI arrests were recorded by the Secretary of State’s office.
• 92 percent of all drivers arrested for DUI, who were eligible, lost their driving privileges.
• 2,516 drivers under age 21 lost their driving privileges due to “Use It & Lose It” law violations.
• 20 percent of those arrested for DUI are women, who represent 50 percent of all licensed drivers.
• Males ages 21-24 had the highest DUI arrest rate (about 26 per 1,000 licensed drivers). This rate was four times greater than that of all other drivers arrested for DUI (6 per 1,000 licensed drivers).
• 83 percent of all drivers arrested for DUI are first offenders.
The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office reports the average DUI offender is:
• male (80 percent arrested are men);
• age 34 (61 percent are under age 35);
• arrested between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. on a weekend; and
• caught driving with a BAC of .16 – twice the illegal limit.
Penalties for a DUI can range from a 6-month license suspension to 30 years in prison for habitual offenders or DUI traffic crashes resulting in serious injury or death.
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or killed in a Chicago car accident with a drunk driver, there are things you can do to help protect your rights. The personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABLES. There is no fee unless you win.