There’s an oft-repeated stereotype of the typical drunk driver in Illinois. The picture painted is of a person (usually male) who has a substantial alcohol addiction, is disheveled and driving a beat-up car, and has a criminal record that is speckled with public intoxications, DUIs, and perhaps even assault or domestic abuse charges.
It’s true that some DUI offenders fit that profile. And then there are those who are completely ordinary. But both types can cause serious harm to others.
An example of the latter type of suspected drunk driver caused a serious auto accident last month on the Cook-Will County line. On Wednesday, March 27, a 19-year old woman was driving a 2001 Mercury Mountaineer on Steger Road in Steger along the southern border of the Cook County Forest Preserve. Near the intersection with Richton Road, the sport utility vehicle crossed over the center line and slammed head-on into a 2005 Chevy Trailblazer.
The 26-year old male driver reportedly broke his T-12 vertebra in the auto accident, which paralyzed him from the waist down. The teen was arrested on charges of aggravated driving under the influence after her blood alcohol content was found to be .117, which would be above the legal limit in Illinois even if she were 21 years of age or older.
There is a strong likelihood that the paralyzed man will file a personal injury lawsuit against the woman, who has no previous criminal record whatsoever. This suit could allow the victim to collect reimbursement for ambulance charges, hospitalization expenses, and treatment costs; as well as the estimated medical expenses he will incur throughout the rest of his lifetime because of his paralysis. In addition, the man could collect any estimated wages that he is now unable to earn because of his inability to work due to the auto accident. Finally, the jury may award monetary damages for pain and suffering and perhaps even loss of consortium, as well as possible punitive damages if the teen is convicted of DUI.