Impaired Driving Laws in Chicago and the Rights of Victims

Illinois takes driving under the influence very seriously. In the state, “driving under the influence” is defined as operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, other drugs including marijuana, or intoxicating compounds. Put simply, if you drive while you are influenced by an intoxicating substance, you are breaking the law in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois.

Most people have a basic understanding of the alcohol limit that exists here and what may or may not put them over that limit. Few drivers, though, understand the laws as they apply to other drugs.

The presence of drugs in a motorist’s system is not as easy to analyze as the presence of alcohol. While alcohol breaks down and leaves a driver’s body in a predictable and timely manner, other drugs tend to remain in a motorist’s blood and/or system for much longer. It is possible that a driver has these compounds present in their bodies even if they are no longer feeling the effects.

What does this mean for the innocent victims who are harmed in collisions with impaired drivers? It means that they are protected by several laws in the state and that their rights cannot be ignored by an at-fault motorist. First, an impaired driver may face criminal charges for her actions behind the wheel. If found guilty, the driver may be fined, incarcerated in jail or prison, face the loss of a driver’s license, be forced to install and use an interlock device, or endure various other punishments for her actions.

Criminal and traffic charges brought against the driver do little to help a victim, though, especially one who was injured in a crash. In that case, a victim may also have the right to bring a personal injury claim in a civil court for the harm done in a car accident that happened in Cook County. Unlike a criminal charge, a pending civil claim can lead to damages recovered by a victim for things like medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. These claims can help a victim move beyond an accident and back to normal life without the threat of unpaid medical expenses dragging them down.

Anyone with a valid claim can bring a personal injury action but these cases can be complex and confusing. For those reasons and others, many victims choose to work with a personal injury attorney who can help the victims through all necessary steps, making sure the law is complied with at each turn and fighting for the victim’s best interests.

While accidents create rights for those who have been harmed, victims are forced to act within a statute of limitations or face having their claims barred permanently so it is wise to consult with an experienced professional as soon as possible after an accident happens to ensure you are protected.

Prior Blog Entry:

Chicago Shoulder of the Road Accidents Can be Deadly, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published June 16, 2016.


DUI Fact Book Illinois 2016, Jesse White, Secretary of State, State of Illinois.

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