Police and the media have done a pretty good job about raising drunk driving awareness. Drivers all across Illinois are getting the message that it’s both illegal and unsafe to drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. But perhaps one aspect of this problem that isn’t being emphasized enough is the dangers of getting into a vehicle with someone who has been drinking or taking drugs. Because doing so puts your health and life at risk.
That warning comes too late for a young woman who lost her life in a violent crash in Cicero in January. Last week, reckless homicide and DUI charges were filed against a 33-year old man who was driving the Chevrolet Impala in which the victim died. In the early morning hours of January 23, the car slammed into a wall at around 78 miles per hour near Laramie Avenue a bit south of the Eisenhower Expressway. The driver and a female back seat passenger both had to be extricated by first responders. But the woman in the front passenger seat succumbed to her injuries.
The driver, who sustained critical injuries, was taken to a nearby hospital where his blood alcohol content was measured at .255, which is over three times the legal limit in Illinois. Cocaine was also found in his bloodstream after the wreck. The 33-year old man had already been convicted for DUI on three previous occasions. In addition, the surviving passenger told police that the driver was already drinking from a vodka bottle when he picked the two passengers up late the night before. The injured woman said that the man drove to a beach “did doughnuts” in the sand. When she begged him to take her home, he said he wouldn’t do so until he finished a second bottle of liquor.
Even though the passengers probably erred in judgment by getting into the car with the 33-year old man, he is still responsible for the auto accident. The surviving woman could file a personal injury lawsuit against him, while the family members of the young woman who died may choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit on her behalf.