Abels & Annes

Licensed driver, Illinois’ reporting system, blamed for second deadly crash

Authorities and the media are asking some tough questions after a fatal Chicago car accident last Thursday was allegedly caused by a man sentenced to six years in prison for reckless homicide in 2006 but was nevertheless out of jail and on the road with a valid license.

As reported on our Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, the Thursday car accident in Crestwood was caused after the 52-year-old driver slammed into a group of cars parked at an intersection.

Authorities reported the driver was speeding. Four people were injured in the crash and a 55-year-old father of two was killed.

The driver faces charges of reckless homicide, aggravated driving under the influence of drugs and failure to reduce his speed to avoid an accident — his speed has been reported at 100 mph at the time of the accident.

In 2006, the man was driving through Chicago’s West Side, again at speeds of 100 mph, when he slammed into another vehicle, killing 28-year-old Ewa Kwiatowska, according to the Southtown Star.

The newspaper reported that he pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and was sentenced to six years in prison but was paroled last year.

He was back on the road with a valid license, despite only being halfway through a prison sentence for killing someone while behind the wheel.

Meanwhile, the Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court’s Office and the office of Secretary of State Jesse White, which regulates driver’s licenses in Illinois, are arguing about how and why this man’s driver’s license was not revoked.

A spokesman for White said his office relies on electronic updates to the state’s driver’s license system. The automated approach, used in 88 of the state’s 102 counties, results in 5,000 updates per day — about one-third of that volume comes from Cook County.

While there is much finger-pointing about why this driver’s license was not suspended, there seems to be little mention of why he was out on parole less than 3 years after his conviction.

Nor has there been much discussion or what can be done to prevent drivers — licensed or unlicensed — from recklessly destroying lives behind the wheel of an automobile.

In Australia, where unlicensed driving has been studied extensively, a report found that almost 4 of every 5 accidents involving an unlicensed driver were the fault of the unlicensed driver.

A study of U.S. drivers by the AAA Foundation, titled Unlicensed to Kill, found that 13.8 percent of all fatal crashes involved an unlicensed driver.

The report concluded that more than 7,000 fatal crashed each year involve a driver who had their licensed suspended within the preceding three years.