Drunk driving blamed for deadly Chicago auto accident involving teenagers

A teenager has been sentenced to six months in jail on drunk driving charges stemming from a fatal Chicago car accident that claimed the life of a friend and critically injured two passengers, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The teenager will serve 120 days in jail this year, 30 days in jail next year and 30 days in 2012 after pleading guilty in March to aggravated DUI and reckless homicide.

The June accident killed a 17-year-old West Chicago teenager. Police say the defendant’s blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit when he lost control of his SUV and struck a tree at about 3:30 a.m. on June 14.

The teens had been partying at the home of the teenager killed in the wreck; his parents were out of state at the time. Witnesses testified that the defendant aggressively refused suggestions that he not drive. Prosecutors had requested a 10-year prison sentence.

As part of the judge’s order, the teen will also have to give four talks at schools about the dangers of drunk driving. The judge also said he would reduce the sentence by one day for every additional speech the defendant makes to a school or victim impact panel.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers 15 to 20 years old, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2008, 5,864 teenagers were involved in fatal accidents — 2,739 were killed and more than 228,000 were injured. One-third of young drivers killed in crashes had alcohol in their system at the time of the accident.

In Illinois, 164 people died in accidents involving young drivers in 2008, including 80 young drivers and 39 young passengers.

Click here to read the Kane County Chronicle article.

Click here to read the Chicago Daily Herald article.

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