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Drunk Driving Accidents

Casey Woodruff

alcoholAurora Car Accident Attorney 

Drunk driving accidents are tragically common in Illinois. Accidents in which a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be more dangerous than an average car accident, since the driver’s reaction time is impaired, and he or she may not be able to take the corrective action that a sober driver would. Drunk driving is a criminal offense in Illinois, but victims of drunk driving accidents may also pursue civil remedies, completely separate from any criminal penalty. An attorney can help you recover medical expenses and other costs. 

Blood Alcohol Content 

In Illinois, the legal limit for a driver’s blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent. If a driver’s BAC is at 0.08 percent or higher, he or she can be charged with a crime. A DUI is prima facie evidence of negligence in Illinois, meaning that it can be rebutted only by showing that the driver was acting reasonably under the circumstances. If a driver is under the age of 21, any amount of alcohol in the blood is illegal and constitutes evidence of negligence.But even if the driver did not consume enough alcohol to exceed the legal limit and be charged with a crime does not mean that an accident victim cannot sue to recover damages. A BAC of 0.08 or higher is not always required for a driver to be impaired, and any amount of impairment will be useful in a suit for negligence. It does mean, however, that the victim must present evidence that the driver was impaired, in addition to proving the BAC, in order to recover. 

Dram Shop Law 

A drunk driving victim may always sue the intoxicated driver. But drunk drivers may not have sufficient insurance coverage, or may not be insured at all, leaving the victim unable to recover compensation for the full value of his or her injuries. Fortunately, Illinois has a dram shop law that allows victims of drunk driving to sue the licensed establishment, such as a bar, store, or restaurant that provided the alcohol to the intoxicated driver. It is important to note, though, that this law does not permit victims to sue social hosts, but only establishments licensed for the distribution of alcohol. Illinois’ dram shop law caps the amount of money that a victim can recover. The cap is adjusted each year for inflation. Additionally, the statute of limitations, or deadline for filing a case, is one year under the dram shop law, as opposed to two years for most personal injury suits. 

Underage Drinking 

In Illinois, if a person over the age of 18 supplies alcohol to a minor under the age of 18, the supplier may be held liable for any injury to people or property that the minor causes as a result of the alcohol consumption. The law also applies to bars or other establishments that serve minors. Victims have two years to bring a lawsuit. 

Damages 

Victims of drunk driving accidents in Illinois can recover compensation for both past and future losses, including:

  • Medical costs;
  • Lost wages;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Scarring and disfigurement, and
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving accident, an experienced attorney can discuss whether you may be able to bring a suit against a driver, the establishment the sold the alcohol, or another party. Please contact a car accident attorney at Woodruff Johnson & Evans to schedule a free initial consultation at our offices in Aurora, Chicago, or Champaign.    

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