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Driver guilty of killing passenger in DUI crash gets 6 year term

At least 29 percent of all deaths in U.S. motor vehicle crashes during 2011 might have been prevented. More than 9,870 of over 32, 300 traffic deaths recorded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration occurred in drunk driving accidents. During the same year, Illinois reported more than 30 percent of 279 traffic deaths were alcohol-related.

The NHTSA said two-thirds of the drunk driving victims who died in 2011 were drivers. The rest of the victims had no control over the events that ended their lives. Passengers made up 27 percent of DUI accident deaths; seven percent of victims weren't even inside a vehicle.

A Lake County man will spend the next six years in state prison for an accident that claimed a passenger's life. The 24-year-old defendant received the sentence, after pleading guilty to aggravated DUI and an unrelated domestic violence charge.

The deadly crash took place in Fox Lake in September 2012. The defendant's car slammed into a tree, killing a 21-year-old man. The front-seat passenger, the father of a young son, was engaged to be married.

The defendant was charged for the accident and freed on bond. The driver violated the terms of the release, when he was arrested in September on a domestic battery charge. Authorities jailed the man and set a $1 million bond.

The half-dozen year sentence includes a 364-day, concurrent term for the domestic violence guilty plea.

Before sentencing, the judge listened to the victim's fiancee describe the impact caused by the fatality. The mother of the victim's child said she has struggled to find the right way to tell her son about his father's "senseless" death.

Civil court juries determine whether carelessness or recklessness contributed to an injury or death in an auto accident. Evidence of driver intoxication is proof of negligence, which translates to compensation for a DUI accident victim or surviving family members.

Source:, "Round Lake man gets 6 years for DUI crash that killed young dad" Jim Newton, Dec. 07, 2013

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