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It has been 35 years since the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) caught the national spotlight, raising awareness of the dangers associated with drunk driving. Since that time, stricter state laws have been enacted and law enforcement has aggressively pursued both drivers impaired by alcohol as well as other intoxicating substances. Despite increased public knowledge regarding the harm intoxicated drivers cause themselves and others, driving under the influence continues to be a problem on America’s roadways. Injuries caused by drunk and impaired driving accidents are often severe and even life threatening. The following provides information you should know about the dangers associated with impaired driving, as well as the laws that are enacted to deter intoxicated drivers in our state.
Sobering Facts About Drunk Driving
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded in 1980. At the time, over 25,000 people were killed in drunk driving accidents each year. Since then, the number of drunk driving fatalities has been cut in half, but there is still major work to be done. The following are some sobering facts about drunk driving today:
- Someone is injured in a drunk driving accident every two minutes;
- Twenty-four people die each day as the result of a drunk driving accident;
- Drunk driving costs our country over $199 billion each year; and
- Two out of three people will eventually be involved in a drunk driving accident, either as the driver or the victim.
In light of these grim statistics, it is easy to see why law enforcement conducts aggressive campaigns to keep drunk drivers off the road. They have expanded their focus to include drivers under the influence of illegal drugs as well as prescribed medications. Operating a car after taking any substance that impairs your reasoning and judgment behind the wheel is against the law.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Driving under the influence of any intoxicating substance puts yourself and others in danger. To deter intoxicated drivers, the state of Illinois has enacted tough laws against drunk driving, with heavy punishments for drivers who are determined to be driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. The Illinois Compiled Statutes, Section 11-501 outlines the laws and penalties for driving while under the influence (DUI). Under state law, drivers are not permitted to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater, or while under the influence of any drug or compound that results in physical or mental impairment. This includes illegal ‘street’ drugs, as well as prescribed medications. Penalties for driving under the influence include the following:
- A first offense DUI is considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, fines up to $2,500, and loss of driving privileges for a year. Drivers facing conviction for a first offense may be eligible for referral to an alcohol education program (AEP);
- For a second offense, drivers face a mandatory five-day imprisonment, or 240 hours of community service. Fines can be up to $2,500, and they may lose their license for as long as five years; and
- Drivers convicted of a third DUI may face three years or more in jail, increased fines, and the loss of their driving privileges for up to 10 years.
Punishments for drunk driving become more severe if the driver causes an accident resulting in injury or death. As for underage drunk drivers, Illinois has a zero tolerance policy. Driving under the influence of any amount of alcohol or drugs results in fines, potential jail time, and the loss of driving privileges.
Let Us Help You Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact our experienced Will County car accident attorney today. At Sabuco, Beck, Hansen, Massino & Pollack, P.C., we will ensure responsible parties are held accountable for the damages they cause, and help you get the compensation you deserve for medical expenses, lost wages, property damages, and pain and suffering. Don’t hesitate to contact our office today at (815) 730-8860 for an initial consultation.