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Why was my mom arrested and why did they let the driver who hit her go?

Asked by user in Illinois.

My mom got hit by a car while she was waiting at a red light. The police arrested my mom because she doesn't have her license.

Answered by Enjuris Editors:

I’m sorry you’re dealing with this stressful situation.

Under Illinois law (625 ILCS 5/6-101), a person who drives a vehicle without a valid license can be punished by a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. If the person’s license was revoked, the penalties could be more severe. In other words, the police officer had the right to arrest your mother under Illinois law.

The person who hit your mother’s vehicle is likely at fault for the accident (even though your mother didn’t have a valid license). Your mother can file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance or file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover damages. The police officer, however, had no legal basis for detaining the at-fault driver simply for causing an accident.

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