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Illinois 20-year-old driver charged with DUI fatality

Chicago traffic accident victims and families who've lost loved ones in DUI crashes share a belief. The drunk driving accidents didn't have to happen. The pain and suffering of victims could have been avoided if the at-fault driver had considered the possible consequences.

A 20-year-old Southeastern Illinois man is in jail for killing a friend. The Carmi man lost control of a pickup truck he was driving along an ice- and snow-covered road in White County. The truck pitched off the road and flipped, partially ejecting an 18-year-old male passenger.

The teen died at the scene. Three other passengers, ages 17 to 19, and the driver suffered non-serious injuries.

Police said the teens had been drinking. This was the third time the driver was charged with an alcohol-related offense since last summer.

The defendant was arrested twice in August, once for underage consumption and once for DUI. The young man was conditionally discharged with more than $1,300 in costs and fines for the first offense; charges were dismissed in the second case. The defendant was also on probation for a reckless conduct conviction from last year.

Police say the minor driver drove drunk on a suspended license, delivered alcohol to other minors and resisted authorities. The findings of an auto accident reconstruction team may add to the charges. The three surviving passengers were cited for underage alcohol consumption.

Illinois laws apply increased charges and penalties for repeat DUI offenders. Long driver's license suspensions, vehicle confiscation, ignition interlock devices and mandatory substance abuse treatment are deterrents that don't always work.

Drunk drivers often take risks, like driving unlicensed and renting or borrowing a car to avoid ignition-linked breath tests. These illegal actions are intentional and dangerous, just to satisfy the desire to drink and drive.

Plaintiffs who can prove a defendant's reckless disregard of the safety of others caused serious injuries or deaths could be compensated in civil courts.

Source:  Evansville Courier & Press, "Teen killed in early morning wreck; police say driver will face drunken driving charge" Len Wells, Jan. 07, 2014

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