Once a part-time Orland Park police officer, a 62-year-old man will now find himself on the other side of law enforcement after being sentenced to six years in prison for a crash that left another man dead. The defendant was legally drunk with a blood alcohol content of 0.11 at the time of the accident; Illinois law presumes intoxication when a driver’s BAC is 0.08 or higher.
The case stems from a 2010 crash on I-80 near New Lenox. The defendant was driving his pickup truck eastbound when he came upon a Chevrolet Malibu that was stopped on the shoulder of the road. The Malibu had a flat tire and the 20-year-old male driver was inside the vehicle, talking on his cell phone as the defendant approached.
The defendant struck the Malibu at a high rate of speed, pushing the Malibu to the right and into a ditch, where the car caught on fire. The 20-year-old driver was still inside the car and died as a result of the crash. The defendant lost control of his pickup truck upon impact and veered left. He entered the lanes designated for westbound traffic and collided with a third vehicle that had a 40-year-old man, 32-year-old woman, and 10-year-old boy inside. Fortunately, none in the third car were seriously injured.
The defendant was initially taken to Silver Cross Hospital where he was treated for injuries sustained in the crash. After that, authorities took him into custody and charged him with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, a Class 2 felony punishable by a three to 14 year prison sentence. During the criminal proceedings, the defendant pleaded guilty to the aggravated DUI charge and received a six year sentence earlier this week.
Drunk driving is dangerous and illegal in Illinois. Many people who hear about this specific example of drunk driving will be disturbed that not only did a citizen break the law and kill another, but also that the defendant was once responsible for enforcing those same laws he broke. If a former police officer disregards laws that are fundamental to the safety of all motorists, it calls into question that officer’s ability to enforce the same rules.
Alcohol slows the body’s central nervous system and lowers a driver’s ability to react to hazards while driving, including disabled vehicles on the side of the road. Any amount of alcohol can cause impairment and this is one of the reasons that the presumed BAC to indicate intoxication was lowered from 0.10 to 0.08 in the 1990s. Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that this limit be lowered to 0.05 nationally, the most common limit used around the world, as the experts at NTSB believe this would be a more accurate and safe level to presume impairment.
Regardless of the legal limits of presumed intoxication, a driver in Illinois will continue to be guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol when any amount of alcohol in the driver’s system causes an impaired ability to drive. With many drivers who are young, rarely drink, or drink on an empty stomach, impairment occurs long before the driver’s BAC reaches the 0.08 threshold.
If the negligence of a drunk driver has caused you injury, you may have the right to seek a financial recovery against that driver for your damages. Call the Chicago DUI injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. today and let us provide you with a free telephone consultation regarding your case. There is no obligation with the phone call so please call us now at (312) 924-7575 or toll free at (855) 529-2442.
Prior Blog Entries:
Illinois to Combine Ignition Interlock Devices with Camera, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, published July 8, 2013.
Deficiencies in Bridges May Place Illinois Drivers in Danger, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, published July 5, 2013.
Former Orland Hills cop sentenced to 6 years for fatal DUI, by Michael Holtz, Chicago Tribune, published July 9, 2013.