Although it is illegal to drive drunk in every state, more than 10,000 people are killed in drunk driving accidents each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA). The CDC reports that in Illinois alone, 3,866 people were killed in crashes that involved a drunk driver from 2003 to 2012. If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, you may be entitled to damages, including compensation for medical expenses and lost income. Talk to an experienced lawyer about your options.
DUI Law in Illinois
Illinois statutes prohibit drivers from driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, drugs, or any other intoxicating compound. A driver will be considered intoxicated by law if his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 percent or higher. In Illinois, drivers whose BAC is over the legal limit or those who refuse to submit to a BAC test will have their driver’s license suspended for one year, following a 45-day grace period.
Drunk drivers in Illinois may face criminal penalties, even if there was no accident and no one was hurt. First-time offenders may face up to six months in prison and a minimum fine of $1,000, in addition to community service and mandatory drug and alcohol program participation. Second-time offenders and those with aggravating factors, such as extremely high BAC or minors in the vehicle, may be subject to even stiffer penalties.
If someone was injured, the drunk driver may additionally face civil liability in the form of a personal injury, dram shop, or wrongful death lawsuit. Such civil suits allow injured parties to collect damages, such as payment for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The time limit, or statute of limitations, for filing suits in Illinois is two years; therefore, it is advisable to seek legal assistance as soon as possible to preserve the viability of the claim.
Those who are injured in a drunk driving accident may sue the driver who caused the accident in a personal injury lawsuit. Illinois is a comparative negligence state, meaning that the person who caused the accident must be at least 50 percent at-fault for the injured party to recover damages. Injured parties who are less than 50 percent at-fault may still recover, although the damage award will be reduced in accordance with their percentage of fault. For example, if someone is 20 percent at-fault, they may recover 80 percent of their initial award.
The types of damages available in a personal injury lawsuit include economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost income. These suits also include non-economic damages, like pain and suffering and disfigurement. There are currently no limits on personal injury damages in Illinois.
Dram Shop Liability
In Illinois, those who are injured by drunk drivers may not only choose to bring a claim against the drunk driver, but they may also sue the alcohol vendor who served the drunk driver alcohol. Some states require proof that the vendor continued to serve alcohol, even after the defendant was visibly intoxicated. However, under Illinois’ dram shop law, injured parties must merely show that the vendor supplied the intoxicated driver with alcohol which caused the accident to happen.
When someone is killed by a wrongful act, such as drunk driving, the person who caused the death may be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death claims in Illinois may be filed by a personal representative of the decedent’s estate, which includes spouses, parents of deceased minor children, and adult children of deceased parents. This type of lawsuit allows family members to recover compensation for losses stemming from the death, such as funeral and burial expenses, financial support, grief, and mental suffering.
Illinois Car Accident Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Advocate for Drunk Driving Accident Victims
If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, contact one of our experienced lawyers today. Our dedicated Illinois car accident lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC advocate for all car accident victims and will help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact us online or call us at 618-277-3644 to schedule a free consultation. Located in Swansea, Illinois, we also serve clients in Belleville, Carbondale, East St. Louis, Granite City, Edwardsville, Chester, Waterloo, St. Louis, Madison County, St. Clair County, Monroe County, and Randolph County.