Remorse for drunk driving death leads to no prison time

Most Illinois residents are aware of the dangers of getting behind the wheel after indulging in alcoholic beverages. Even so, people make mistakes and some end up accused of drunk driving. If an emergency arises, an impaired driver's reaction times are diminished and judgment is compromised. When another individual fails to obey a traffic law and an accident occurs, the fact that the other driver was drunk could still result in criminal charges even if that driver might not have been at fault under ordinary circumstances.

For example, in May 2013 a 32-year-old man was driving after drinking at a bar. As he approached an intersection, he had the green light to proceed. A 26-year-old bicyclist rode into the intersection against the red light, and the driver's vehicle struck and killed him. Even though the bicyclist was technically at fault for running the red light, Illinois prosecutors charged the driver whose blood alcohol content was reportedly .15. Officials also claimed he was speeding at the time of the crash.

The driver attempted to save the life of the bicycle rider that day, but it was too late. He told the court that he lives with those moments daily and regrets what happened. The judge considered these facts when the man pleaded guilty to aggravated drunk driving and reckless homicide. The judge sentenced the man to 10 days in jail and four years of probation, along with restitution to the victim's family for funeral expenses in the amount of $25,000.

The judge in this drunk driving case did not believe that the man was a danger to society, which is a factor many courts here and elsewhere consider. The character of the accused individual often comes into play and is just as much a part of a criminal defense as the evidence and other factors involved in the case. Even when the facts are undisputed, prosecutors and judges often take into account the totality of the circumstances, which is where plea bargains such as the one entered into by this man come into play.

Source: Niles, IL Patch, "10 Days in Jail for DUI Homicide that Killed Bicyclist on North Side", Jonah Meadows, Jan. 27, 2017

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