Multiple DUI Crashes Cause the Wrongful Death of Illinois Residents

Dodds Law Office, PC
How long can a car accident case stay open.

Nowadays, it’s not challenging to find headlines about fatal DUI crashes in Bloomington and the rest of Illinois. Alcohol and drug-related DUI accidents claim the lives of hundreds of Illinois residents and leave many more with severe injuries. Considering the high chances of an Illinois resident being a victim of a DUI crash, learning the realities of these crashes can help you be proactive and take the right steps if they occur.

How long can a car accident case stay open.

Fatal DUI Crashes in Illinois

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is defined as operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol, marijuana (cannabis), other drugs, methamphetamine, or other intoxicating compounds. You’re legally considered to be driving under the influence if you’re driving with a BAC of 0.08% or more, THC concentration of 5 nanograms per milliliter of whole blood or more, 10 nanograms or more per milliliter of another bodily substance, have used a controlled substance, or are impaired by medication.

DUI statistics in Illinois show that DUI accidents are a significant cause of wrongful deaths in the state. DUI accounts for over 20% of fatal accidents in the state. According to Illinois Fatal Crash Historic Data, there were 1,268 crash fatalities in 2022 and 1,270 crash fatalities in 2023. The 2024 Illinois DUI Fact Book reports that DUI crashes where alcohol was a factor caused 292 deaths in 2022. Drugs other than alcohol, such as cocaine and marijuana, are a factor in 18% of motor vehicle driver fatalities.

Just recently, a 74-year-old driver veered into the southbound lanes and crashed head-on into the car of a 73-year-old motorist in Illinois. The 73-year-old was transported to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. The 74-year-old man was under the influence of cocaine at the time of the crash.

Statistically, DUI is among the leading causes of teen deaths. Two South Elgin High School students were recently killed in a DUI crash. The crash occurred when the car that the students were in made a left turn in front of a dump truck, which hit the car’s passenger side, killing the two teen passengers. A third passenger sustained severe injuries. The 17-year-old driver of the car was allegedly driving under the influence of marijuana.

According to the 2024 DUI Fact Book, 608 drivers were arrested for DUI in Bloomington and the rest of McLean County in 2022. A total of 21,203 DUI arrests were made throughout Illinois. One of the top publicized DUI arrests in Bloomington happened a few months ago, when a 38-year-old driver allegedly ran a red light on Washington Street and was hit by a northbound vehicle. Her SUV overturned, and a 39-year-old passenger was killed. The driver was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

Why Does DUI Increase the Risk of Fatal Accidents?

One of the most dangerous effects of impairment by alcohol or drugs is the inability to make sound driving judgments and decisions. Alcohol and drugs can affect normal brain function, resulting in simple driving decisions like making a left turn and yielding at intersections being harder to make. For example, in the marijuana-related DUI accident involving high school students, the driver failed to yield to the oncoming dump truck.

People who’ve used alcohol and drugs can also be more likely to be involved in fatal accidents because of their inability to focus and concentrate for too long. The inability to pay attention to the road and the surroundings can make it difficult to look out for red lights and stop signs, stay in the right lane, leave enough space between you and the car in front, and obey speed limits.

Drunk and drugged driving can also cause vision problems, significantly reduced coordination, and slower reaction time. The intoxicated driver may be unable to respond to emergency situations quickly, have reduced control of the car, and struggle to maintain lane discipline. Unsurprisingly, the driver that caused the cocaine-related DUI crash swerved into other lanes and hit the 73-year-old victim’s car.

Consequences of Fatal DUI Accidents

Drunk and drugged driving that leads to severe injuries and death in Illinois comes with serious consequences.

Criminal vs. Civil Case for a Wrongful Death

Following a DUI accident that results in wrongful death, the at-fault driver can be held liable both civilly and criminally. Local prosecutors can pursue a criminal case against the driver. The survivors of a person who died in a DUI crash can pursue a civil wrongful death case against the driver and his or her insurance provider.

The criminal case brought by the state of Illinois and the civil case brought by the surviving family members of the deceased are separate. Therefore, even if the intoxicated driver beats the charges in a criminal court, you can still pursue a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court. Nevertheless, the conviction or evidence in the criminal case can be critical in showing that the driver was impaired in your civil case.

The potential outcomes of criminal cases and civil cases are different. A civil claim may result in compensation for specified damages once negligence is established. A criminal case can result in imprisonment, fines, and driver’s license penalties.

Consequences of Criminal Charges Against Impaired Drivers in Bloomington

You may wonder what affects a DUI charge and penalties. DUI charges and penalties in Illinois vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the arrest and conviction, such as:

  • The driver’s age
  • BAC level
  • The severity of the accident
  • If a child below 16 years was in the vehicle
  • Whether the driver committed a traffic violation like wrong-way driving
  • Presence of a prior DUI conviction

For example, the 17-year-old driver who caused a DUI crash that killed two teens was allowed to remain out of custody while her case was pending, but had to abide by a 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. curfew. On the other hand, the 74-year-old driver involved in the other recent DUI crash was held at Lake County Jail while awaiting a court appearance.

A BAC level of 0.16 typically leads to larger fines, more days in jail, and more hours of court-mandated community service, depending on the number of previous DUI convictions. The criminal charges are likely to be more severe if the intoxicated driver caused severe injuries or killed someone.

A DUI offense will likely cause an insurance company to raise your premium significantly. A DUI conviction remains permanently on your driving record. An Illinois aggravated DUI is any DUI offense that results in felony charges. Both the 17-year-old and 74-year-old drivers were charged with aggravated driving under the influence of drugs.

When a DUI crash leads to the death of an individual, the driver responsible can be charged with reckless homicide. If convicted, a person charged with reckless homicide will serve at least two years in prison. The person will face revocation of his or her driving privileges. Both drivers involved in the recent DUI crashes in Illinois were charged with reckless homicide.

A conviction of reckless homicide and aggravated DUI with great bodily harm or death can have devastating repercussions on your future in Illinois. As a result, it’s crucial to work with a DUI attorney if you’re facing such charges in Bloomington. A prosecutor will have to prove that your intoxicated driving caused the injuries or death. A drunk driving accident attorney will do everything possible to get you out of a DUI.

Police officers can make mistakes during DUI arrests. A DUI attorney will analyze your case to find out whether the chemical testing was warranted, whether the test was properly administered, whether the evidence was preserved correctly, and look for anything else that could lead to a dismissal or “not guilty” verdict at trial. If a dismissal or acquittal isn’t possible, a DUI attorney will use his or her skills and experience to help lessen the severity of your punishment and get you the best deal possible.

Speaking to an attorney as soon as possible after an arrest will help you avoid missing out on potentially successful defenses.

What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

If your loved one dies due to a drunk or drugged driving accident, you can bring a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages. You can bring the lawsuit against the at-fault driver and, depending on circumstances, a third party, such as the driver’s employer, the vehicle owner, and an adult or business that served alcohol to a minor or an individual who was already visibly intoxicated.

Wrongful death damages can’t undo the loss of a loved one. However, they can help ease the financial burden imposed by the person’s death and the loss of his or her income. You can seek economic damages, such as:

  • Medical expenses incurred for the deceased person’s treatment after the accident, prior to the person’s death
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of future income

The non-economic damages you can seek include loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and grief and mental suffering. Punitive damages may be awarded if your case goes to trial.

Attorney Terry Dodds has been protecting the rights of the people of Bloomington, Illinois for over 20 years. Whether you were injured in an accident, or you have been charged with a crime, Terry Dodds can tip the scales of justice in your favor.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions:Illinois State Bar Association Missouri State Bar Association McLean County Bar Association