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Chicago man guilty of high-speed DUI crash, gets 12-year term

Have you ever been in a Cook County at a party with a friend who obviously has had too much alcohol to drink? If you let that moment go without calling a cab or driving the person home, you may be witnessing a tragedy about to happen. The moment a drunk driver gets behind the wheel, he or she becomes a public threat or, as a judge in a recent case said, a weapon pointed in a crowd's direction.

A 26-year-old Chicago man was sentenced to spend the next 12 years of his life in prison for causing a fatal drunk driving accident. The defendant admitted that he remembered nothing about slamming into the rear of a car stopped at a red light, until after he was hospitalized. The back seat passenger in the waiting car, a Springfield teacher, was killed.

Investigators said the intoxicated driver's car was traveling at 111 mph just before the collision. The man apparently never noticed the cars at the Illinois Route 16 intersection. Two hours after the fatality, the defendant's blood alcohol content level still peaked about two times the legal limit.

The defendant was convicted of aggravated DUI in February. The man must serve at least 85 percent of the prison term before parole is considered. The judge also ordered the defendant to pay $63,000 in restitution to families of the victims, which also included payments to others injured in the high-speed crash.

The lengthy sentence was based partly on a previous reckless driving conviction that was initially charged as DUI. The judge determined the only reason the defendant sped along the highway at extremely high speeds was because he chose to do it, without thinking about anyone's safety.

Compensation may be available through civil claims for victims of accidents caused by drunk drivers. Damages are awarded to plaintiffs who suffer injuries or the loss of a family member due to driver negligence.

Source: Journal Gazette & Times-Courier, "Man gets 12 years in prison for fatal DUI" Dave Fopay, Apr. 09, 2014

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