x

Illinois Drunk Driving Accidents, Laws & Injury Compensation

Driving under the influence in Illinois

What to do if you’re injured by a drunk driver in Illinois

Like all states, Illinois has laws in place that address the legal limit and the penalties for drunk driving. Find out what those laws are and how they might impact your personal injury claim.

The good news is that drunk driving fatalities are down in Illinois, ever since the state implemented driving under the influence (DUI) legislation 20 years ago.

The bad news is that drunk driving is still a big problem in the Prairie State.

Facing factsAccording to the Illinois Department of Transportation, 291 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in 2018. What’s more, 26,386 people were arrested for DUI.

Let’s take a closer look at drunk driving in Illinois, including how drunk driving can impact your injury claim.

Legal alcohol limit for driving in Illinois

A driver’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is based on the ratio of alcohol to blood or breath.

In Illinois, you’re legally considered to be under the influence if your BAC is .08 or more.

However, this doesn’t mean your driving ability doesn’t suffer until you reach a BAC of .08.

Your risk of being in a crash begins to climb with a BAC of .04 and increases rapidly thereafter. By the time you reach a BAC of .06, you’re 2 times as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as non-drinking drivers. By the time you reach a BAC of .08, you’re 11 times more likely to be killed in a single-vehicle crash than non-drinking drivers.

In fact, you can be convicted of DUI in Illinois even if your BAC is less than .08, if other evidence shows that you’re impaired.

In Illinois, you can be convicted of a DUI even if your BAC is below the legal limit.
Tweet this
What about marijuana?

Driving under the influence is defined as “operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, other drugs, including cannabis (marijuana), or intoxicating compounds of methamphetamine.”

So yes, you can be arrested for DUI if you’re caught driving while high.

Though medicinal and recreational use of marijuana is legal in Illinois, drivers are considered to be under the influence if they have a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of either 5 nanograms or more per milliliter of whole blood.

Implied consent laws in Illinois

When you operate a motor vehicle in Illinois, you automatically give consent to the Illinois police to test your BAC so long as the police officer has “reasonable grounds” to believe you're driving under the influence or you’re under 21 and have consumed alcohol.

This is known as an implied consent law.

If you refuse to submit to or fail to complete testing, your license will automatically be suspended for 6 months (for a 1st offense).

Facing factsAccording to the Illinois Department of Transportation, the average DUI offender is:

  • Male (74% are men)
  • Around age 34 (52% are under 35)
  • Arrested between 11:00 pm and 4:00 am on a weekend
  • Caught driving with a BAC of .16

Penalties for driving under the influence

Penalties for DUI in Illinois vary depending on the circumstances of the arrest and conviction. These circumstances may include:

  • Prior DUI convictions
  • The driver’s age
  • The driver’s BAC
  • Whether the driver was transporting a child under the age of 16

Let’s take a closer look.

First DUI conviction

A first DUI conviction is a Class A misdemeanor and carries with it the following minimum penalties:

  • Revocation of driving privileges for 1 year (2 years if the driver is under age 21)
  • Suspension of vehicle registration

In addition, there are enhanced penalties if your BAC is .16 or more ($500 fine and 100 hours of community service) or if the DUI was committed while the driver was transporting a child under the age of 16 (a minimum $1,000 fine, 25 days of community service, and possible imprisonment up to 6 months).

Second DUI conviction

A second DUI conviction is a Class A misdemeanor and carries with it the following minimum penalties:

  • Imprisonment for 5 days or 240 hours of community service
  • Revocation of driving privileges for a minimum of 5 years for a 2nd conviction within 20 years
  • Suspension of vehicle registration

In addition, there are enhanced penalties if your BAC is .16 or more (imprisonment of 2 days and a minimum fine of $1,250) or if the DUI was committed while the driver was transporting a child under the age of 16 ($5,000 fine and 25 days of community service).

Third DUI conviction

A third DUI conviction is a Class 2 felony in Illinois and carries with it the following minimum penalties:

  • Revocation of driving privileges for a minimum of 10 years
  • Suspension of vehicle registration

In addition, there are enhanced penalties if you have a BAC of .16 or more (imprisonment of 90 days and a mandatory minimum fine of $2,500) or if the DUI was committed while the driver was transporting a child under the age of 16 ($25,000 fine and 25 days of community service).

Fourth DUI conviction

A fourth DUI conviction is a Class 2 felony and carries with it the following minimum penalties:

  • Revocation of driving privileges for life
  • Suspension of vehicle registration

In addition, there are enhanced penalties if your BAC registers at .16 or more (minimum fine of $5,000) or if the DUI was committed while the driver was transporting a child under the age of 16 ($25,000 fine and 25 days of community service).

Fifth DUI conviction

A fifth DUI conviction is a Class 1 felony and carries with it the following minimum penalties:

  • Revocation of driving privileges for life
  • Suspension of vehicle registration

In addition, there are enhanced penalties if your BAC is .16 or more (minimum fine of $5,000) or if the DUI was committed while the driver was transporting a child under the age of 16 ($25,000 fine and 25 days of community service).

Sixth DUI conviction

A sixth DUI conviction is a Class X felony and carries with it the following minimum penalties:

  • Revocation of driving privileges for life
  • Suspension of vehicle registration

In addition, there are enhanced penalties if your BAC of .16 or more (minimum fine of $5,000) or if the DUI was committed while the driver was transporting a child under the age of 16 ($25,000 fine and 25 days of community service).

Dram shop laws

Dram shop laws address whether an employee or owner of an establishment (usually a restaurant or bar) can be held liable for a crash resulting from a drunk driver who was served at the establishment.

In Illinois, a person who’s injured by a drunk driver can bring a claim for damages against the establishment that supplied the alcohol. Unlike most other states, Illinois doesn’t require the establishment to have served alcohol after the defendant was obviously intoxicated. It’s enough that the establishment supplied the alcohol that caused the intoxication that played a part in the accident.

Let’s look at an example:

John drank 2 beers at home. Though he had developed a bit of a buzz, he wasn’t quite drunk. He then drove to the Mountainview Pub where he drank a 3rd and 4th beer. Though he didn’t appear drunk at this point, his BAC was .08. He left the bar and crashed into Adam who was driving home from work.

In this scenario, Adam could sue John for his damages. He could also sue the Mountainview Pub under Illinois’ dram shop laws.

What to do if you’re hit by a drunk driver?

If you’re hit by a drunk driver, your priority should be to get medical care. This is important for your health, but it’s also important for the purposes of creating evidence that can help support an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit down the road.

Enjuris tip: For some serious injuries, including internal injuries, the symptoms don’t appear until hours, days, or even weeks after the injury was sustained. Even if you feel okay, it’s important to see your doctor after a drunk driving accident.

In addition to calling an ambulance (if necessary), you should call the police immediately. When the police arrives, be sure to explain that you suspect the other driver is intoxicated. Your statement may help the police officer establish the necessary reasonable grounds to administer a field sobriety test.

Once the authorities have been alerted and you make sure you're physically okay, contact a car accident attorney.

The drunk driver will face jail time and fines, but you’ll need to hire your own attorney if you want to sue for damages stemming from the accident.

Fortunately, proving that a drunk driver was responsible for an accident is generally pretty simple, so long as the driver was charged with DUI.

In Illinois, you may be able to recover economic damages (such as medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages), as well as noneconomic damages (such as pain and suffering). You also stand a chance of recovering punitive damages, assuming you can prove that the driver who caused the accident was, in fact, intoxicated.

Do victims of drunk driving accidents have rights with respect to criminal proceedings?

Your personal injury attorney will help you file a civil claim and recover damages following a drunk driving accident. There will also be a criminal action brought against the drunk driver. You won’t have much to do with the criminal case, but you do have some rights.

These include the right to:

  • Be notified promptly of all court proceedings
  • Communicate with the prosecution
  • Be heard at any court proceeding involving a post-arraignment release decision, plea, or sentencing
  • Be notified of the conviction, sentence, imprisonment, and release of the accused
  • Timely disposition of the case following the arrest of the accused
  • Be reasonably protected from the accused through the criminal justice process
  • Have present at all court proceedings, subject to the rules of evidence, an advocate and a support person of your choice

If you still have questions or need someone to represent you, contact a personal injury attorney through our free online directory.

Connect to top-rated lawyers in seconds using our comprehensive national directory

Find your State
AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE DC FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY

 

Downloads:
Free personal injury guides for download to print or save. View all downloads.

Tell your story:
Tell your story - What would you want others to know? Tell us what happened in your accident, and how life has changed for you.

Find an attorney:
Search our directory for personal injury law firms.
See our guide Choosing a personal injury attorney.