Drunk driving is relatively easy to recognize if a police officer pulls over a driver who is suspected of DUI. Field sobriety tests and/or blood alcohol content tests are usually sufficient to warrant an arrest on DUI charges. But identifying drunk driving is more difficult if a vehicle has been in a serious auto accident. Even if police can figure out whether the vehicle’s occupants were drunk, it may be a challenge to determine which person was actually driving.
Such was the case back in December when Riverside Police were investigating a single-vehicle rollover auto accident. A sport utility vehicle rolled over twice in a residential neighborhood of Riverside near the intersection of Delaplaine and Longcommon Roads. A 26-year old man was ejected from the vehicle and was crushed underneath it, and he died a short time later at a nearby hospital. Police tested a 24-year old woman who was also in the SUV and found that she had a BAC of .17, which is more than twice the legal limit in Illinois. However, they were unable to prove that she was behind the wheel at the time of the crash.
But after reviewing countless hours of surveillance footage in the area, authorities were able to find video evidence of the woman getting into the driver’s seat of the SUV outside a restaurant about eight blocks from the accident site – three minutes before the rollover crash took place. This week, Cook County prosecutors charged the woman with aggravated DUI and reckless homicide in the death of her boyfriend. Regardless of whether or not she is convicted, the surviving family members of the 26-year old man may wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit against her. The suit could compensate the family for lost future wages, reimburse them for hospital and burial costs, and even award them damages for mental anguish and loss of care or companionship.