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DUI charge to be upgraded for Illinois scooter fatality

The number of motorcycles, scooters and bicycles along Chicago streets decrease as fall days shorten and turn cold. The slow turn of the weather from pleasant to bitter deters many Cook County bike riders. Rules of the road don't change with the increased absence of small vehicles, though.

Car and truck drivers may not expect to see bike riders during poor weather conditions or late at night. That doesn't matter. Drivers are responsible for adapting to traffic changes and accommodating pedestrians and all street-legal vehicles, whether the sun is down or the weather turns wet.

A 47-year-old Atwood resident was riding a scooter along U.S. 36, just before midnight. The man never reached his destination. The rider was ejected and died when an SUV slammed into the back of the small vehicle.

The SUV driver, a Decatur man, lost control after the initial crash. The car swerved from the highway and flipped. The 29-year-old driver was not hurt.

Douglas County authorities said the scooter operator was the victim of a drunk driving accident. The SUV driver was arrested, jailed and charged with DUI, transporting alcohol illegally and multiple traffic violations, including unlicensed driving. State troopers said the SUV was tailgating.

Prosecutors plan to amend the charges to include aggravated DUI, a felony with severe penalties when accident victims are seriously injured or die. The defendant's bond was set at $250,000.

Alcohol impairment alters a driver's ability to make good decisions and respond to sudden traffic changes. A drunk driving accident cannot be blamed on darkness or the size or unexpected appearance of a small vehicle. A driver who chooses to drink beyond the limit of intoxication is accountable in criminal and civil courts for wrongdoing and carelessness or recklessness.

The courts serve to punish criminals and provide fair compensation for DUI accident victims and their families. Damages in civil courts are awarded with proof of a defendant's negligence.

news-, "Motorcyclist killed in collision near Douglas-Piatt county line identified" Mary Schenk, Oct. 11, 2013

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