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Drunk Driving in Illinois: The Law, the Problem, and Your Recovery

Drunk driving isn’t just illegal—it puts everyone at riskThe dangers of drunk driving are well known. It is against the law to drive drunk in Illinois. Yet each year people are killed and others are hurt by drivers’ decisions to get behind the wheel after drinking. Accordingly, it is important to know the law, to understand the impact drunk drivers have in our state, and to know what to do if you’ve been hurt or if you’ve lost a loved one.

Drunk Driving Is Against the Law in Illinois

Illinois law defines drunk driving as follows:

  • A blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% for drivers age 21 and older.
  • A BAC of 0.04% for commercial drivers age 21 or older.
  • A BAC of 0.00% for all drivers under the age of 21. That’s right, a minor with any measurable alcohol in his or her system can be arrested for driving drunk.

It’s worth noting that lower BAC levels offer no legal defense. A driver who is unusually sensitive to alcohol may be negligent and may be liable for drunk driving accident injuries or fatalities even though his blood-alcohol test is below the threshold.

Drunk Drivers Still Cause Illinois Car Accident Injuries and Deaths

2013 is currently the most recent year for which complete accident statistics are available. In 2013 the Illinois Department of Transportation reports:

  • About one-third of all accident fatalities involved a crash where at least one driver had been drinking.
  • The accidents occurred every day of the week and during every time of the day. However, 67% of fatal alcohol related crashes occurred between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., and 49% of fatal alcohol related crashes occurred on Saturdays and Sundays.

Of course, the statistics only tell part of the story. Every person left injured and every loved one left grieving knows the personal impact of a drunk driving accident.

You Are in Control of Your Recovery

A drunk driving accident can leave you feeling out of control, but you are the one who can control your own recovery by:

  • Contacting the police immediately. The police should come investigate your accident. A breathalyzer or other sobriety test may be administered and could be important to the outcome of your case.
  • Accepting medical care. This is most important because of your physical recovery. However, it is also important to your potential legal recovery since you will need to prove your damages.
  • Reporting the accident to your insurance company. All serious accidents should be reported. However, you should be careful what you say and not speculate as to the cause of the crash or the extent of your injuries.
  • Contacting an attorney quickly so that evidence is preserved and your rights are protected. An attorney can make sure that all relevant evidence is kept and that you file all relevant documents, including a complaint in court, in a timely manner.
  • Recognizing and avoiding potential problems. There are two common mistakes made by drunk driving accident victims. First, some victims assume that a criminal case will be brought and result in a recovery for the accident victim. That is not the purpose of a criminal drunk driving case. Even if the drunk driver is found guilty, it will not result in a recovery for the victim. Second, some victims assume that drunk driving cases are simple open-and-shut cases that do not require them to take action. This assumption is also not true. As with any car accident case, the victim has to prove what happened in the case and that he is entitled to damages.

If you fail to take action, however, then you will not be able to recover damages for your injuries even though the other driver broke the law and caused your accident. To learn more about what to do, please start a live chat us today.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham