Drunk driving has always been a serious problem in America. According to statistics, more than 33,561 people died in traffic accidents in 2012. This accounts for almost 31% of all traffic deaths in the US. However, the good news is that drunken driving fatalities have decreased since 1982. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that driving fatalities decreased by 35% and numbers have been dropping steadily since then.
Police, DUI attorneys, and judges were quick to point out that stringent laws, better driver education, and stringent penalties, were the main reason for this dramatic decline in drunken driving fatalities. In fact, a Champaign County judge recently sentenced a man to eight years in prison for DUI driving. But he really was not DUI driving!
Stringent Penalties for DUIs in Illinois?
Champaign County Judge Richard Klaus handed out a surprisingly harsh sentence on a drunk driver on November 10th, 2014. The Villa Grove driver was involved in a DUI accident that resulted in the death of a Broadlands teen. On October 4th, Timothy Bretz was driving under the influence of a cannabis by-product and lost control of his vehicle.
This resulted in rash and perilous driving and the demise of 19-year-old Wyatt Jones. Bretz was at the wheel of a semitrailer grain truck and he lost control of the vehicle. The out of control vehicle drove over Mr. Jones car, and trapped him inside it, resulting in serious injuries. After a valiant struggle, the teen died the next day but Bretz survived with no injuries at all.
A Strange Penalty (No Marijuana for 2 Weeks!)
According to court records, Defense Attorney Steve Amjad of Champaign stated that Bretz was not responsible for the accident even though he was very remorseful for the teen’s death. Bretz had consumed cannabis but this was two weeks before the accident, and it was not possible for the effects to linger in the body for so long. He also stated that there were many 4th District Appellate court cases that also involved DUI crashes and deaths. However, the defendants in these cases received minimal prison sentences. Irrespective of these claims, Bretz was convicted of aggravated driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound and then sentenced to 6-1/2 years in prison.
The Bottom Line
Although this is a one-off case, it just shows how the courts are cracking down on first time offenders. DUI attorneys Illinois point out that DUIs are expensive and very seriously punished in Illinois. The state of Illinois has severe financial penalties for defaulters and convicted drivers may face jail terms of three-seven years, $2,500 in fines, and a license suspension up to 10 years.
The state also has an implied consent law. That means drivers who refuse to take a chemical test are automatically considered guilty and subject to a fine and automatic license suspension. These penalties are so severe that most defaulters engage local DUI attorneys Illinois firms immediately.
According to DMV.org, fighting a DUI in Illinois can cost you $14,000 and more. The bulk of this money goes towards fines, court-ordered assessments, treatment and remedial education, insurance premiums, and even attorney fines. The bad news is that these fines double or triple for subsequent convictions, and the penalties are even stricter for drivers under the age of 21.
Considering how the winds are blowing, it would be a judicious idea to be very careful while driving in Illinois. And certainly if you have had a few alcoholic drinks! And even smoked marijuana two weeks prior!