Even though the legal driving age in Illinois has been 16 years old for some time, it’s only in recent years that officials have recognized that these inexperienced drivers are involved in more Illinois auto accidents. That’s why in 2008, state lawmakers passed legislation to implement a graduated licensing system, which places restrictions on drivers under 18 years of age. Though many teenagers complain about the limitations, an incident in DuPage County earlier this month illustrated the consequences of irresponsible teen driving.
On Friday, November 2 shortly after 7:30pm, a 2003 Toyota Sequoia was driving south on South Park Avenue a block east of South Garfield Road in Hinsdale. According to police, the 16-year old driver tried to make a sharp left turn onto eastbound East 4th Street when the sport utility vehicle struck a curb, rolled over, hit a light pole, and then struck a tree. There were a total of eight teens inside the SUV, and seven of them (including the driver) were injured. Four of those victims reportedly sustained “incapacitating” injuries.
It appears that the driver will be held fully responsible for the SUV rollover accident, although the investigation is continuing. Hinsdale Police charged the driver not only with failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident, but also for transporting too many passengers in the vehicle. Even though the Sequoia does seat eight occupants, under Illinois law a driver in his first year of licensure can only have one other (unrelated) individual under age 20 in the vehicle with him or her.
But the family of the driver may face even more legal issues. If they choose to, the families of the injured teens (or the victims themselves, if they are 18 or 19 years old) can file personal injury lawsuits against the parents of the driver, which is the correct protocol since the driver is 16. As a result, the defendants may be ordered to reimburse the plaintiffs for medical expenses and/or pay out monetary damages for mental anguish.