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25 Crash Causes: Drunk Driving

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Auto Accidents, Personal Injury, Top 25 Causes of Car Crashes


You’re driving home from a friend’s get-together on a Saturday night. From the rearview mirror, you notice a familiar vehicle behind you swerving from left to right and accelerating in an erratic manner. The car belongs to someone who also attended the party, and you recall the driver consuming more than a few alcoholic beverages. Immediately, you react by shifting to the farthest lane away from the volatile driver, but the other driver swerves and despite your best efforts at defensive driving your car ends up getting hit.

In the United States, almost one-third of fatal car crashes involve drunk driving. Approximately every two minutes, someone is injured in a drunk driving incident, and someone is killed every 51 minutes. In addition, alcohol-related accidents cost more than $59 billion annually in insurance payments, legal fees, income loss, rehabilitation, court proceedings, law enforcement costs, medical treatments, and other repercussions.

Drinking & Driving Laws in Illinois

Illinois upholds strict laws against drunk driving. For drivers under age 21, there is a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for driving under the influence of alcohol, and for adult drivers of legal drinking age, there is a mandated blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of .08. However, an adult driver with a BAC of less than .08 can still get arrested and charged with DUI when driving is erratic enough to suggest impairment.

The penalties for a DUI conviction can be harsh, especially if the driver causes an accident that results in bodily injury to others. The penalties for a conviction can include:

First Offense:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Fines of up to $2,500
  • A driver’s license suspension for a minimum of 1 year

Second Offense:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Fines of p to $2,500
  • A driver’s license suspension for a minimum of 5 years

Third Offense:

  • A prison sentence of 3 to 7 years
  • Fines of up to $2,500
  • A driver’s license suspension for a minimum of 10 years

Vehicular homicide — or causing someone’s death while driving under the influence — can lead to a Class 2 felony conviction, punishable by a sentence of 3 to 14 years in prison per fatality caused, and a maximum possible fine of $25,000.

An aggravated DUI offense — or causing physical injury while driving under the influence — can also be charged as a Class 4 felony, eligible for a prison sentence of 1 to 12 years.

How to Prevent Drunk Driving

The best way to prevent a drunk driving accident is to be prepared before an event involving alcohol takes place. Here are a few steps that you can take to ensure driving safety:

  • Do not allow your friends to drive home when they are impaired by alcohol, even if they insist that they are capable.
  • When with a group of people, assign a designated driver who remains sober.
  • If you are the host of a party, take away the keys of anyone too drunk to drive home. You should also remind your guests to plan ahead and arrange a safe way of leaving the event.
  • If there is no sober driver available, call for a taxi or someone else to pick you up. It is better to be cautious than take the risk of driving while intoxicated.

How a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

Not everyone is fortunate enough to escape a drunk driving accident in time, and the aftermath of a fatal crash can be emotionally and financially devastating for the victim’s family. If you or a loved one has been recently injured or killed by a driver under the influence of alcohol, Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. is here to help. We have helped many victims and survivors prepare legal claims and recover sizable compensation for damages incurred.

You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, rehabilitation and treatment, lost wages, diminished earning potential, funeral expenses, counseling services, pain and suffering, and other intangible factors, depending on the circumstances of your case. You may have a claim against the driver who caused your crash. Under Illinois dram shop laws, you also may have a claim against a bar, restaurant, or another licensed establishment that served the driver alcohol.

Contact one of our experienced Chicago injury lawyers at (312) 236-2900 to schedule a free case assessment today.

Don’t miss this article: Top 25 Causes of Car Accidents and What You Can Do To Prevent Them. For this month of October, the Illinois attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. will be developing a blog series breaking down these leading causes of car crashes.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900