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Illinois woman accused of DUI felony was unaware she drove drunk

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in 2011 included a frightening statistic. The average number of times a person drives while intoxicated before getting arrested for drunk driving is 80. That means a Cook County drunk driver has 79 opportunities before getting caught to cause car accidents, injuries and deaths that never had to happen.

An intoxicated Illinois woman apparently had no idea she was driving when she left a Bloomington bar on an early Saturday morning. Authorities said the 37-year-old driver blew through a red light at up to 60 mph before slamming into another vehicle. The accused woman and her passenger were unhurt but all four victims, a man and three women in the second car, had to be hospitalized.

Police records stated the female driver's blood alcohol content level was above 0.15 percent, nearly double the state limit used to determine driver intoxication. The defendant told investigating officers she didn't believe she had driven. Authorities filed an aggravated drunk driving charge, a felony, and jailed the woman on more than $50,000 bail.

Prosecutors said one of the crash victims required immediate surgery for several fractures to his skull. His condition was listed as critical. Reports did not identify the remaining victims or provide medical updates on the three women.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported last year that an average of 28 people died each day in the U.S. in alcohol-related accidents. Drunk driving accident injuries occur nearly every minute and a half and DUI fatalities happen every 51 minutes. Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving wish statistics would be sobering, but apparently they aren't.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported over 1.2 million American drivers were arrested in 2011 for drunk or drugged driving. All may face severe punishments for injuring or killing other people, including financial penalties for victims' rightful civil claims.

Source: The Pantagraph, "Felony DUI charged in crash that injures 4" Pat Shaver, Mar. 29, 2014

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