A Chicago couple heads home at the end of a late night date after an evening of dinner and drinks. The person behind the wheel is impaired by alcohol, but chooses to drive. A drunk driving accident occurs. The driver lives. The passenger, his date, dies.
Drunk driving endangers the vehicle operator, passengers, and other motorists. The impaired driver's poor choice to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated is a form of negligence, punishable in criminal and civil courts.
Police in Cook County say a Chicago man is in custody on $500,000 bail following a fatal, single-vehicle accident. The 33-year-old suspect was behind the wheel when the car he was driving hit a Near West Side viaduct and split in two.
Rescue crews found a woman's body outside the wrecked car. The 26-year-old victim had been riding in the front seat next to her boyfriend at the time of the crash.
The county medical examiner's office reported the Cicero woman died of her injuries a few hours following the early morning accident. The boyfriend was hospitalized and treated for minor injuries.
The driver's reported blood alcohol level of 0.179 more than doubled the Illinois limit. Police said the suspect had been driving with no insurance and a suspended license - misdemeanor traffic offenses. The suspect additionally was charged with a pair of felonies - reckless homicide and aggravated DUI.
A defendant's actions may be judged in separate criminal and civil courts, although civil claims are not dependent upon criminal charges or convictions. A guilty verdict in a criminal trial sometimes includes financial penalties like fines, along with other consequences including prison time.
A defendant found guilty of negligence in a civil trial is liable for damages to plaintiffs he has harmed. Economic recovery is sought by victims themselves or surviving relatives of a person killed by a negligent act.
Source: chicagotribune.com, "Boyfriend held on $500,000 bail in crash that killed Cicero woman," Peter Nickeas, Feb. 25, 2013