An at-fault driver's remorse is little comfort for victims of DUI accidents and their families. A Cook County drunk driver who causes a fatal crash is likely to tell a judge that he or she never meant to cause harm. Hindsight is an excellent teacher, but it cannot undo the damage that has been done.
Criminal courts punish lawbreakers. An Aurora man recently was ordered to serve a 7-year prison term for a 2010 hit-and-run accident. One of the two pedestrians the drunk driver hit died. The second pedestrian suffered a head injury and multiple fractures that requires continued treatment, including surgeries.
The survivor, like so many other victims of negligent drivers, may endure constant pain and disability. An accident that happened three years ago continues to rob the victim of his health and financial wellbeing. The punishment for a person who caused an injury or fatal accident may never equal the suffering of a victim or family who lost a loved one.
The driver in this case left the accident scene, uncaring of the 22-year-old woman and the 25-year-old man he struck down. The driver surrendered a few hours after the crash. Authorities said the 33-year-old defendant fled because he was driving drunk with a blood alcohol level that may have been more than double the legal limit.
The fear of getting caught outweighed the driver's responsibility to stop and aid the victims. There might have been nothing the man could do to help other than call for emergency personnel, but he was bound by law to try.
A drunk driving accident is preventable. The person who drinks and drives makes a choice to take a risk. Unfortunately, the risk is not confined to one person. Anyone in the driver's path - another driver, a bicyclist or a pedestrian -- is a possible victim. The failure to consider the safety of others is negligence.
batavia.patch.com, "Aurora Man Gets 7 Years for Fatal DUI Hit-and-Run in North Aurora" Rick Nagel, Aug. 21, 2013