Drunk driving is dangerous and irresponsible but also unfortunately common. In 2020, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office recorded over 20,000 DUI arrests — 86% of whom were first-time offenders. Driving under the influence can be a costly mistake, but what happens if you’re in an accident with another drunk driver?
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Defining Drunk Driving in Illinois
According to Illinois law, you can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if your blood alcohol content (BAC) meets or exceeds:
- .04% for commercial driver’s license holders
- .08% for drivers 21 and over
- .00% for drivers under 21
Who Is at Fault in Drunk Driving Accidents?
In an accident involving a drunk driver, it is easy to attribute fault to the one under the influence. But if both drivers are drunk, establishing liability can be complicated. Three significant elements of fault must be proven that the driver:
- Had a duty of care – all drivers have a duty of care to keep each other safe on the road.
- Breached that duty of care – driving drunk can be considered a violation of duty.
- Caused injury to someone else – for example, if you were hurt or suffered property damage due to someone else’s drunk driving.
However, it is important to note that car accidents can be complex, and drunk drivers do not always cause crashes. But adding alcohol to the mix can create more problems for dealing with insurance companies and possible criminal charges.
Illinois Comparative Negligence Laws
Illinois follows the rule of modified comparative negligence as the standard for recovery of damages. This means that if you are less than 50% responsible for injuries or damages in an accident, you can recover compensation by filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
When you file a claim with the other driver’s insurance after an accident, the company will investigate what happened and assign you a portion of the fault. Your car accident attorney will go to bat for you to minimize your percentage of fault and seek a settlement to cover your damages; if you were drunk during the accident, this battle over fault can be contentious. Even if both drivers were intoxicated, it may become clear that one driver played a larger role in causing the accident.
Can I Recover Compensation from the Other Driver if I Was Drunk Too?
It depends. According to Illinois’s comparative negligence laws, you could be eligible to pursue compensation from the other driver if you are found to be less than 50% responsible for the accident.
Can I Face Criminal DUI Charges?
Even if the other driver was found liable in the accident, both of you could still face criminal charges and penalties for DUI in Illinois.
If you’re a first-time DUI offender, you will face a mandatory license suspension of at least one year, up to one year in jail, and a maximum fine of $2,500. Subsequent offenses can bring longer (or even lifetime) license suspensions, mandatory minimum fines, and serious jail time.
You may be concerned about who will pay for your medical bills or vehicle damages after an accident with a drunk driver, but if you were also intoxicated, you’ll have to deal with any charges you face.
Call Staver for Help Facing Drunk Driving Charges in Illinois
Even if you aren’t sure about your chances of recovering compensation in an accident with another drunk driver, you should certainly seek the help of a car accident lawyer. An experienced attorney can fight to minimize your fault in the accident and move forward after a crash.
At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., we can represent you and pursue the compensation to which you may be entitled for your damages and losses. Our car accident attorneys serve clients throughout the Chicago area, including Aurora, Elgin, Hinsdale, Joliet, Naperville, and Waukegan.