Pair of fatal auto accidents in the Chicago area highlights dangers of drunk driving

Two women have been killed in separate Chicago area car crashes this month, with alleged DUI drivers being responsible for both accidents.

On July 3, a 39-year old Carol Stream man was driving in the early hours of the morning with a 30-year old woman when he failed to stop at a train crossing in Itasca, Illinois, drove through the lowered gate, and struck the engine of a passing train. According to the Chicago Tribune, the man had a blood-alcohol content of .183, more than twice the legal limit of .08. His passenger died of her injuries soon after the crash.

The man has been charged with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, and is being held on $500,000 bail.

A week later, a 43-year old woman returning home from her job as a 911 dispatcher when a 16-year old driver, who was drunk and high on drugs, plowed into her car. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the young driver, who was an honors student and two-sport athlete at his high school, was being pursued by police at the time of the accident.

The youth had just left a party near Old Town, where he got “drunk and high,” when he saw a man leave his SUV idling on North Michigan Avenue while he went to pay for parking. The youth stole the car and fled police after they attempted to pull him over after he ran a red light. During the pursuit, the youth ran a stop sign at the intersection of Armitage and Hoyne Avenues in Bucktown and hit the 911 dispatcher, causing her to careen into a fire hydrant. The youth escaped on foot, but was soon apprehended. Police say the teen had a blood-alcohol content of .186 and was also high on marijuana and ecstasy at the time of the crash.

The youth has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder, felony burglary, misdemeanor DUI, and two traffic citations. His bond is set at $1 million.

Drunk driving is incredibly dangerous for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians alike. Each year, thousands of innocent people are killed in alcohol-related crashes. A brief look government statistics from 2009 illustrate this grim reality:

• Out of the 33,808 driving fatalities nationwide, 10,839 of them were alcohol-impaired driving fatalities (32%) – That is roughly 1 every 48 minutes
• 1,077 teens died drunk driving crashes

• 70% of drivers involved in fatal drunk driving crashes had blood-alcohol levels above .15, and the median level was .17
• 44% of the drivers involved in fatal crashes had at least 1 prior DWI conviction
• 1.4 million people were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
• Out of the 911 driving fatalities in Illinois, 319 of them were alcohol-impaired driving fatalities (35%)

2009 NHTSA Traffic Report
NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)
2009 Century Counsel Report- Drunk Driving Fatalities in America
CDC Stat sheet

Drunk driving is not something that only affects those who engage in it. Innocent people who abstain from drinking and driving are killed every day. If you are injured by a drunk driver, you are entitled to be compensated and can seek the help of an Illinois injury lawyer. Call 312-924-7575 to speak directly to an attorney now.

Recent DUI blogs:

Memorial Day crash caused by drunk driver

Mayor calls for stricter rules after intoxicated city employee causes pedestrian accident

This blog was co-authored Shane Nichols, a 2013 Juris Doctor candidate from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

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