Underage party leads to death of 5 students in Chicago drunk driving accident

A woman accused of a Chicago drunk driving accident that killed 5 teenagers is expected to testify this week as her trial comes to a close in Kendall County, the Daily Herald reported.

The 26-year-old Auora woman is accused of drunk driving in a Feb. 11, 2007 accident while giving 8 teenagers a ride home from an underage drinking party hosted by an 18-year-old Boulder Hill resident. Police say she was driving a 2001 Infiniti Q30 68mph in a 45 mph zone when she lost control and slammed into a telephone pole on Route 31 near River Run Road, 4 miles from the party. Five Oswego High School students — ages 17, 16, 15, 14, 14 — died in the crash. The home’s owner reported that she and her boyfriend had returned home to find their son having a party and kicked everyone out around 1 a.m.

The defendant’s blood-alcohol level was .124, above the legal limit of .08. However, she is contesting the results, saying she vomited during the accident, which can skew test results.

We continue to post information on our Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog about the dangers teenagers face on the road. Traffic accidents are the number one cause of death for teenagers ages 15 to 20, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Teenagers are often ill-equipped to recognize the risks associated with traffic accidents. In this case, eight kids piled into a car with a woman who may or may not have been under the influence. Regardless, she was speeding down the road in a car with more passengers than it was made to handle and some of the kids must have been forced to ride without seat belts. To say nothing of the distraction of driving eight drunken rowdy teens around at 2 o’clock in the morning.

Parents who host parties, or who arrive home to find their child has hosted a party, also need to be aware of the liability. In this case, the homeowner had an obligation to make sure these kids found a safe ride home. When excessive drinking occurs on a homeowner’s property, and a serious or fatal accident results, a homeowner can be held liable in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit — just as a bar can be held responsible for over-serving a patron.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving offers resources for the parents of high-school students.

As the Fourth of July approaches, our Chicago injury lawyers encourage parents to speak with their teenagers about the importance of making good decisions and staying safe on the road. They should feel free to call home for a ride if they feel they need to do so — without fear of punishment. And parents need to understand the importance of adult supervision and appropriately host gatherings involving teenagers.

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