Auto accident attorneys see many repeat DUI offenses
An Illinois woman has been incarcerated and is currently facing charges for recently causing a series of accidents on the Tri-State Tollway near Elmhurst. The Chicago Tribune reports that the 59-year-old woman was allegedly driving while intoxicated when she hit a 28-year-old Illinois State Trooper who was on the shoulder of the interstate conducting a traffic stop. Instead of stopping her vehicle, she continued on and struck a retaining wall a short time later. Still another 2 miles later she collided so hard with an SUV carrying 7 occupants, one of which was a 3-year-old boy, that it flipped over. She finally came to a rest after striking a median. The trooper sustained severe injuries and remains hospitalized, and all 7 occupants of the SUV were treated and released. Auto accident attorneys see these accidents every day.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident for the woman. Just 48 hours earlier, she had been released from jail after serving a 3 month sentence for a previous drunk driving offense. In that accident, she failed to heed a red light and slammed into another driver who was making a left-hand turn. The driver was uninjured. She tested at twice the legal blood alcohol content limit.
These crashes mark the woman’s second and third DUIs in a nine month period, and her fourth overall DUI. Despite her multiple offenses and a request from prosecutors for a three year sentence, the Judge sentenced her to probation, a $4,500 fine, and random drug testing.
Illinois and drunk driving
In Illinois, driving under the influence of alcohol accounts for 34 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities each year according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and that number is continually rising. In a study of repeat DUI offenders, MADD found that there were two million drivers convicted of three or more DUI offences, and over 400,000 drivers with five or more DUIs. The National Highway Safety Administration believes that as many as one third of all first time offenders will continue to drink and drive.
DUI Felony Study
Prosecutors across the nation are frustrated and concerned with the constant leniency they see these repeat offenders receive, knowing that the next time a defendant drinks and drives, someone may end up seriously hurt or dead. A study performed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analyzed 161 felony DUI cases from 1999 to 2006. The maximum sentence these drivers could get was three years incarceration and three years probation, and to qualify for the law, none of the prior offences could involve an injury or death. Of the 161 defendants, only 43 percent went to prison with an average sentence of 18 months. Seventy offenders were sentenced to 3 to 12 months in the county jail, although half were able to spend their days in community work release programs. Not one driver received the maximum sentence despite all having multiple DUI convictions.