Drunk Driving Attorney
According to the 2018 DUI Fact Book published by Illinois Secretary of State, approximately one in every four fatal car crashes throughout the state involved the presence of alcohol. In 2016 alone, there were approximately 272 people fatally injured in car crashes in Illinois involving alcohol.
Drinking and Driving Laws in Illinois
Illinois has very stringent DUI laws as well as an Implied Consent Law, meaning you agree to abide by the law as a condition of being licensed to drive. In layman’s terms, the Implied Consent Law means that anyone who is in physical control of a vehicle in Illinois has implicitly agreed to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample to a police officer who has arrested them with probable cause in order to test for alcohol, drugs, or other compounds in violation of Illinois DUI law.
Like all states, Illinois DUI laws do not allow people who have a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 or higher to operate a motor vehicle. The legal BAC level is different for commercial drivers (0.04) and minors (0.00). There is an exception to the minors’ 0.00 BAC level if they are coming back from a religious ceremony or they are on a prescription medication containing alcohol. Even in those cases, minors must follow the national legal limit of 0.08 and may find themselves subject to Illinois’ Zero Tolerance Policy, which we’ll talk about later.
Medical Marijuana and Illegal Drugs
Illinois allows the use of medical marijuana, or cannabis, if a person is registered with the Illinois Department of Public Health and has medical authorization from a licensed physician. The individual will then be provided with a registry card, and a notation will be made on their license.
Just like with alcohol, a person may not operate a vehicle under the influence of marijuana or any illegal substance. Also, they may not transport medical cannabis unless it is in a sealed container that is not accessible while driving (i.e. on the backseat). If the driver of a vehicle is suspected to be impaired, even if they have a valid medical marijuana card, they will be subject to a field sobriety test. Refusal or failure of the test will result in the automatic suspension of the individual’s license and, if applicable, medical cannabis card.
Effective July 29, 2016
Any person with a THC level of 5 nanograms or more per milliliter of whole blood or 10 nanograms or more per milliliter of other bodily substances may be charged with DUI.
The Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois State Police worked overtime over New Year’s to crack down on drunk driving. In Illinois and nationwide, the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign spent millions on drunk driving prevention.
The good news is that in 2014, fewer than 1,000 fatalities occurred on Illinois roads. The bad news is that anyone at all needlessly died because of drunk driving. On New Year’s Day in 2014, 70 people died because of drunk driving. Between 2009 and 2013, 15 people died on New Year’s Day because of alcohol-related crashes; thousands were injured.
Can I sue the Intoxicated Driver if I am Injured due to Their Negligence?
Yes, Illinois law allows claims for damages arising out of drunk driving crashes. The victims can bring either negligence or wrongful death lawsuits. The former state claims for unreasonable conduct that damages plaintiffs. The latter describe actions for the harm and loss following a death. Both forms of cases compensate plaintiffs for economic and non-economic injuries. The specific recovery available depends on the incident. Here is a checklist to see if you can bring a lawsuit against an intoxicated driver.
- Was the driver driving under the influence?
- Were you injured in the crash?
- Was someone else responsible for the incident?
- Were you at all responsible for the incident?
- Did you suffer actual economic or non-economic damages?
Illinois Laws to Prevent Drunk Driving & Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
In 2016, Illinois had 272 fatalities where the driver was over the legal limit for blood alcohol content (DUI). This represented 25% of all crash fatalities. Although Illinois enforces the clear, concise laws against drinking and driving, catastrophic tragedies still occur. Since 1995, Illinois has enforced its “Zero Tolerance Law” involving underage drinking and driving. This means no amount of alcohol is allowed for those under the age of 21 who are behind the wheel. For those of legal drinking age, here is how the law defines intoxicated driving.
- Driving with a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.08%. 625 ILCS 5/11-501 (a)(1).
- Driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol or any combination such that the driver cannot reasonably or safely operate the vehicle. 625 ILCS 5/11-501 (a)(1)-(6).
Importantly, Illinois law provides that even legal consumption of drugs or alcohol does not permit intoxicated driving. 625 ILCS 5/11-501 (b). In other words, drivers must exercise extreme caution when consuming these substances and operating motor vehicles.