Articles Posted in Traffic Accident

Although, as previously discussed, fatal hit-and-run crashes are increasing across the county, Illinois highway deaths are at 60-year lows according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA reports that over the past several years there has been a “historic downward trend in traffic fatalities.” The number of fatalities has decreased by approximately 26% from 2005-2011 and has continued on this pattern since that time. Illinois traffic fatalities is below the national average. Although highway deaths in Illinois have slightly increased in the most populated counties, that number has been more than offset by a decrease throughout the rest of the state.

The NHTSA does not specifically cite a basis for the decline but reasons may include DUI awareness and enforcement, vehicle design, airbags, seat belt laws and highway design. Illinois DUI-related deaths have declined 10% between 2008-2012.

NHTSA: Highway Deaths in Illinois, USA at Historic Lows, www.mystateline.com, November 19, 2013

According to crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, hit-and-run crashes are on the rise in many major cities including Chicago. Nationally, the number of fatal hit-and-run crashes have increased from 1,274 in 2009, to 1,393 in 2010, to 1,449 in 2011, which is the most recent year data is available. That is a 13.9% increase over a three year period. However, overall traffic deaths fell 4.5% during the same period. In other words, the number of overall traffic deaths is not the basis for the steady increase.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that almost one in five of all pedestrian fatalities involve hit-and-runs. The foundation believes that alcohol is a major factor in these instances. Another common factor includes individuals driving without valid driving privileges. Los Angeles reportedly has the highest rate of hit-and-run crashes. In 2009, LA Weekly reported that 48% of the city’s crashes were hit-and-run related, in contrast to 11% nationally.

Many states are continuing to enact stricter legislation and create harsher penalties. Under current Illinois law, leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury or death is a Class 4 felony (1-3 years in prison). If the driver leaves the scene and does not then report the accident to a police station within 30 minutes, they may be charged with a Class 2 felony (Class 1 if the accident results in death). A conviction results in the revocation of the defendant’s driving privileges. If you are involved in a hit-and-run or charged with leaving the scene of an accident of any kind, you should contact an attorney immediately.

A Cook County jury awarded Stephen Dewart over $2.4 million in his suit against the City of Chicago stemming from injuries incurred when he was struck by an intoxicated Chicago Streets & Sanitation worker. Dwight Washington, the driver of the truck, had a BAC over twice the legal limit when he plowed into a group of pedestrians on a Gold Coast sidewalk in May 2011. An open bottle of brandy was found in his vehicle. Dewart was passing out fliers for his wife’s wedding consulting business when he suffered broken bones and a fractured vertebrae. The city previously agreed to pay $6.25 million last year to settle another case involving the same incident. Washington is currently serving time in prison for DUI.

Lawyer: Chicago to pay $2.4 million to man injured by drunk city worker, www.chicagotribune.com, September 23, 2013
$2.4 Million Verdict for Young Man Run Down by City Worker, www.patch.com, September 23, 2013

Driver’s charged with traffic offenses in Cook County should be aware of a new court initiative. Beginning in September, Cook County will provide comprehensive Secretary of State data to prosecutors on minor traffic court calls. Previously, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office used recidivism sheets which only provided data from an offender’s Cook County county court record.

The new recidivism sheets will contain an offender’s Illinois Secretary of State driving record which includes out-of-county and potentially out-of-state traffic violations. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office already has full Secretary of State data for major traffic court calls (i.e. DUI, driving on suspended license, etc.). Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County Timothy Evans reportedly facilitated an agreement between representatives of the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court and the Illinois Secretary of State.

New Cook County court initiative aimed at keeping dangerous drivers off the road, Illinois Lawyer Now, www.isba.org, August 23, 2013

On August 13, 2013, Governor Pat Quinn signed into law legislation originally proposed by the Secretary of State in an effort to make Illinois roads safer. Among the new legislation, Kelsey’s Law (House Bill 1009) prohibits the issuance of a driver’s license to a driver under the age of 18 who has any unresolved traffic citations. Under the new law, the Secretary of State may cancel a Graduated Driver’s License (“GDL”) if it is determined that at the time of issuance the minor had an unresolved traffic citation.

The current law does not require a GDL applicant to report pending traffic citations. The law is named for Kelsey Little, who was seriously injured in a 2011 car crash with a young driver on a learner’s permit. The driver was issued a citation, however, the teen was subsequently issued a driver’s license three days later. Because of the lack of a reporting requirement, the Secretary of State was unaware of the pending citation. Kelsey’s law becomes effective January 1, 2014.

In addition, Governor Quinn signed Patricia’s Law (House Bill 1010), which prohibits the issuance of court supervision to a driver involved in a fatal crash unless the driver has maintained a clean driving history. The new law is named in honor of Patricia McNamara, who was killed in an automobile crash in which the driver received court supervision. Patricia’s law becomes effective January 1, 2014.

A 30-year-old Chicago woman was charged with driving under the influence and nine counts of child endangerment after her SUV rolled over on I-57 early Friday. The children, some without seatbelts, ranged in age from 3 to 14. According to the Illinois State Police, four of the children in the vehicle are believed to be hers. The crash happened on the South Side of Chicago near 99th Street around 12:20 a.m. Witnesses claimed that the SUV was reportedly traveling at a high rate of speed in the southbound lanes of I-57 before rolling over onto the right embankment. Nine children and two adulta were hospitalized. A couple of the passengers were reported to be in serious-to-critical condition but, fortunately, none of the injuries were described as life-threatening. Tonica S. Conwell is facing DUI, child endangerment, and child-restraint charges. Illinois State Police are continuing their investigation.

Mom charged with DUI after kids hurt in SUV rollover, www.chicagotribune.com, August 2, 2013
DUI charges filed in I-57 crash that injured 9 children, www.suntimes.com, August 2, 2013

Alex Reyes, 24, is charged with reckless homicide and aggravated DUI resulting in death after a fatal crash with a Chicago squad car Friday night. Reyes, of Joliet, was allegedly driving a car with three passengers when he crashed into a Chicago police vehicle around 11:30 p.m. in the Austin neighborhood.

According the the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office, an 18-year-old man was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. Reyes and another passenger were critically injured according to reports. Neither of the officers involved in the accident suffered life-threatening injuries but were transported to a nearby hospital. In addition to DUI and reckless homicide, Reyes was also charged with several traffic violations including driving on a suspended license, improper lane usage, driving without insurance, and two counts of damage to public property.

Man Charged With DUI, Reckless Homicide In Crash With Squad Car, www.cbslocal.com, April 15, 2013

Larissa Lomax, 32, of Evanston is charged with driving under the influence of drugs after a fatal crash involving a Skokie pedestrian. Alan Rubin, 57, was allegedly walking northbound across Main Street in the crosswalk when he was hit by Lomax’s vehicle as she was turning east off of Skokie Boulevard at approximately 3:30pm on Tuesday. Rubin was transported to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston where he was later pronounced dead. Lomax has been charged with a drug-based DUI as well as failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Evanston Police have continued their investigation.

Pedestrian struck in Skokie dies, motorist charged with DUI, www.chicagotribune.com, April 4, 2013

David Kreutz, 23, of Chicago is charged with DUI and a felony cannabis charge after an accident with a squad car on Tuesday night. Kreutz reportedly crashed into the officers’ vehicle after turning left in front of them on North Sheridan Road in Rogers Park around 7 p.m.. The two Chicago police officers were transported to Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston in good condition. Kreutz, who works as a bartender, stayed at the scene after the crash. A police department spokesman claimed that he had about 50 grams of cannabis on him. He faces traffic violations including failure to yield the right of way while turning left, driving without insurance, DUI-alcohol, DUI-drugs, and faces a felony count of manufacture and delivery of cannabis. He was scheduled to appear in bond court today.

Man Charged With DUI After Crash Injures 2 Cops In Rogers Park, www.chicago.cbslocal.com, March 27, 2013

An off-duty Chicago Transit Authority employee faces DUI charges after allegedly crashing into an ambulance. Around 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, a Chicago Fire Department ambulance was transporting a patient and a family member to the University of Illinois Medical Center when it was involved in an accident at Garfield Boulevard and Ashland Avenue. A pickup truck allegedly driven by an off-duty CTA employee reportedly crashed into the ambulance. The driver was given field sobriety tests and arrested for driving under the influence. The occupants of the ambulance were transferred into another ambulance and taken to the hospital. No additional injuries were reported from the crash.

Off-Duty CTA Worker Suspected Of DUI In Crash With Ambulance, www.chicago.cbslocal.com, March 21, 2013

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