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DUI death of Marine blamed on Cook County financial director

Once, or if, they regain permission to operate a vehicle, Chicago drivers with repeat DUI arrests or convictions are ordered to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles. In July, Illinois lawmakers made it harder for drivers to try to bypass the interlock devices by equipping the systems with cameras.

Camera-monitored ignition interlocks help prevent accidents involving intoxicated drivers, but the systems are only effective among known offenders. Some drunk drivers escape capture until they've hurt or killed another motorist, a passenger, a bicyclist or a pedestrian.

A 28-year-old man had just finished a late shift at the River North restaurant where he worked. Colleagues said the employee considered skipping his usual mode of transportation in favor of a train ride, but changed his mind. Although it was the middle of the night, the line cook opted to bike to his Heart of Chicago home.

As the former Marine rode through Douglas Park, he was struck by a minivan. The injuries the restaurant worker suffered were fatal.

Cook County crash investigators noticed the minivan driver appeared and smelled intoxicated. A toxicology test revealed the 54-year-old driver, a financial director with the county's health department, had a blood alcohol content level of 0.11 percent, exceeding the state limit of 0.08 percent. Bail was set at $400,000, after the Riverside resident was charged with DUI, aggravated DUI causing death and a speeding offense.

Just under one-third of all U.S. traffic deaths each year -- about 10,000 fatalities -- are the result of drunk driving accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The losses spread beyond family members to the wider public through billions of dollars in unnecessary, increased expenses for health care, taxes and insurance.

Individual financial recovery is possible through liability lawsuits. Civil actions hold DUI drivers accountable for negligence, with settlements or damage awards that compensate injured accident victims and their families.

Source:, "Cook Co. hospital boss held on $400,000 bond in bicyclist’s death" Jon Seidel and Brian Slodysko, Dec. 08, 2013

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