Articles Posted in Alcohol Related Injuries

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The Christmas season is meant to be a happy and joyous time of year. It is meant to be a time for family, friends, and loved ones to gather together and celebrate time together inside from the cold with delicious drinks and food. It is meant to be a time to reminisce over the past year and look forward to the upcoming year ahead. It is meant to be a time to exchange gifts to show appreciation to those you care about. Unfortunately, this is also a time of year where many people are traveling, and when drivers are negligent and reckless, they put a stop to all of the things this time of year is meant to be.

A recent article by the Chicago Tribune relayed some tragic news that on Christmas Eve a hit-and-run pedestrian accident killed a pregnant woman. The young woman was walking across the street in the 4200 block of West Ogden Avenue on the evening of Christmas Eve. She was hit by a westbound motor vehicle, which then failed to stop and fled the scene of the accident. The victim, a resident of the 3000 block of South Keeler Avenue, was taken to the local hospital and then pronounced dead. Miraculously, after the crash, medical personnel successfully delivered the baby, who is in stable condition and expected to survive.

The driver at fault was a resident of the 2700 block of South Harding Avenue and has now been charged with the death of the victim as a felony count of aggravated driving under the influence in a fatal accident, a felony count of leaving the scene of a fatal accident, and two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence. In addition, he was cited for driving with an open container of alcohol and a defective windshield. After appearing in court, the judge ordered that he be held in lieu of $750,000 bail at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.
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According to an article by CBS Chicago, a recently deadly rollover crash occurred on the Chicago Stevenson Expressway. On the morning of December 21st, a man died in a car accident on the Chicago Stevenson Expressway. In this deadly rollover crash, his car rolled off the expressway and crashed into a tree nearby Harlem Avenue. According to the Illinois State Police, the crash victim was driving southbound on the Stevenson Expressway when he lost control of his car, leading to the rollover crash. They believe alcohol and high speed were the major factors in the crash and ultimate death.

Alcohol is a major factor in motor vehicle accidents, especially with the holidays and end of the year celebrations. According to an article by USA Today, AAA estimates that during this year’s Christmas and New Year’s season, nearly 95 million Americans will be on the road traveling to visit family and friends for the holidays. However, during these celebrations and visits, nearly 27,900 Americans will be injured in motor vehicle accidents, which could result in an estimated 250 deaths. A major motivation for this estimate is high alcohol consumption during the holidays. On New Year’s from 2007 to 2011, an estimated 42% of motor vehicle accident fatalities were the result of driving under the influence.

However, drinking and driving is a problem all year round too. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drunk-driving crashes cost approximately $37 billion annually. In 2010 alone, over 10,000 people died in alcohol related crashes. Breaking down this statistic, that is one alcohol-related crash every 51 minutes in the United States.

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The general public has been consistently educated on the dangers of drunk-driving and the risks for serious personal injuries or fatalities it poses to other drivers on the road. However, it now appears that drunk drivers are not the only dangers. Instead of late-night risks, the morning drive now has its dangers as well. Driving with a hangover is just as serious and driving drunk. The problem is that many people are aware they should not drive immediately after consuming alcohol, but many are not aware that they are still too impaired to drive the next morning.

According to CBS Atlanta, a recent study asserted that a hangover that follows a night of heavy drinking can impair a driver’s performance on the road just as badly as driving under the influence of alcohol would. The study claims that the effects of drinking last longer than the measurable blood alcohol concentration. Participants in the study spent a night drinking and took a twenty minute simulated driving test the next morning. Researchers observed that the drivers had increases in speed, errors, and deviation from driving position in this simulation.

The aim of this study was to reflect what occurs in real life when people commute to work the next day after drinking. While this study was performed in the U.K., we can recognize that Chicago is similarly situated. Chicago is a city with full of business opportunities and prosperity, and it is also a city very eventful and social night-life. However, when these two strong points merge, our city can also experience hung-over drivers commuting to their places to work after a night out of heavy drinking.

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Unfortunately, a recent study has shown that many people who deem themselves the designated driver, may actually be drinking over the legal limit or at least to an unsafe point, before they gett behind the wheel to drive themselves and others home. Having a person who agrees to be a designated driver on a night out where people are drinking is a great way to help insure that people are not drinking and driving, however this is not a safe solution if the person who has agreed to abstain from drinking ends up drinking as well.

Many people believe they can have a certain number of drinks and still be okay to drive, however this is not necessarily the case. Even if the driver feels like they are sober enough to drive and that it is safe for them to take the wheel, they may still be impaired and it may not be safe to be driving. A recent study gave everyone leaving a bar a breathalyzer, and of the people who were the designated drivers 41 percent had been drinking and close to 20 percent were above the legal driving limit. Also, many people believe the person who is the least drunk or who has been drinking the least is suitable to be a designated driver, even though that person may have actually consumed a lot of alcohol.

According to NPR, in the United States many people that were asked, expressed that they believed it was okay for the designated driver to drink some as long as they were under the legal BAC of 0.08 percent. However, there have been studies that have shown that drivers may actually be unable to drive well when their BAC is as low as 0.02 and that most everyone with a BAC of 0.05 percent is unable to drive well. This is scary because this means that many people who are impaired in some capacity from alcohol are driving and not worried about it at all. Just because someone is not at the point where they would necessarily get a ticket for driving while under the influence does not mean that they are not impaired and certainly does not mean that it is safe for them to be the driver.

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According to a recent study conducted by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), while a large number of underage drinking deaths are caused by drunk driving, the majority of underage deaths that are a result of alcohol are caused by other factors. While teenage drinking and driving is a very serious issue it is crucial to realize that even if underage people are drinking and are not driving there is still a serious danger to their safety and to the safety of others.

US News reports that while teenage drinking and driving does account for about 32 percent of the 4,700 underage drinking related deaths, there are many other dangers that lead to death that can arise out of underage drinking. For example, the study showed that about 30 percent of these underage alcohol related deaths were murders, about 14 percent were suicides, about 9 percent were related to alcohol poisoning and the remaining 15 percent were various other types of causes.

The above statistics show that it is important for parents not to only speak to their children about the dangers of drinking and driving but also of the reasons that it is not safe to drink underage even if the young person is not driving. Please talk to your kids about these risks and dangers in addition to the dangers of drinking and driving. According to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in addition to the dangers and risk of death associated with underage drinking, studies have shown that underage drinkers also tend to have more trouble in school and are more likely to be victims of other violent crimes (including rape, aggravated assault and battery).

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ABC news reports that Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD as they are more commonly known, and the Alliance Against Intoxicated Driving have launched a campaign to keep the roads safer this holiday season. The good news is that both groups have acknowledged a steady decline in fatal drunk driving accidents over the last thirty years. However, we all know that just one crash is one crash too many as it affects the lives of everyone involved and has a negative impact on the community as a whole.

A spokesperson from the Alliance Against Intoxicated Driving stated that, “[i]t’s a problem that’s always going to be around because people drink and it’s socially acceptable. It’s totally unacceptable to get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking.” The groups organized a vigil for the families of victims of drunk driving at the Thompson center in Chicago last week. One attendee, the wife of a 35-year-old father of three who was killed when a drunk driver rear-ended his vehicle was still suffering from the shock and sadness that accompany all drunk driving accidents. The organizers of the event hoped that it would help families cope with their losses while raising awareness of the dangers of drunk driving. A spokesperson from MADD stated, “one in three families will be impacted by drunk drivers.”

That is truly a shocking and saddening statistic because drunk driving is entirely preventable. If you plan on consuming alcohol, do not drive. The holiday season makes it especially easy for negligent drunk drivers to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. From work parties, to house parties to family gatherings and more, alcohol is always served and all attendees must be responsible. Always designate a driver if you know you will be drinking, and if that is not possible, arrange for public transportation. This is especially easy to do in Chicago, as our public transportation options are plentiful.

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The Chicago Tribune reported that Casa Azteca, a bar in Des Plaines has been ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and comply with several other conditions before the city will lift its liquor license suspension. The Mayor of Des Plaines first shut down the bar and suspended its liquor license in late October after a huge fight broke out in the parking lot of the bar. Two Waukegan men were responsible for the fight and were later arrested on felony charges, even though the fight involved around 50 people. Allegedly, the fight broke out over an argument about a patron’s girlfriend.

The owner is also required to install security cameras both inside and outside of the bar, and save all such recordings for a specified period of time. Additionally, Casa Azteca must employ off duty police officers during peak times, and their bartenders must complete a training course, submit fingerprints and have background checks.

Fights and accidents involving liquor consumption are often linked to laws called dram shop acts. Dram shop is just the legal term for a bar. Therefore, dram shop acts are just laws about bars and who will be liable when a patron harms another after becoming intoxicated. In Illinois, our legislature has stated that the Illinois Dram Shop Act is intended “to place responsibility for damages caused by intoxicants on those who profit from the sale of alcohol…[and] to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people from the dangers of traffic in liquor.” Because consuming alcohol is a part of life for many adults, they must be aware that their actions while intoxicated often have consequences for people other than themselves.

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According to the Chicago Tribune, a Northern Illinois University freshman student from Palatine, Illinois, was discovered dead at his Pi Kappa Alpha house on Friday, November 2, 2012. While an official cause of death has not been determined, local authorities believe that alcohol may have been a contributing factor, and no foul play is suspected.

The 19 year old was attending a fraternity party earlier that evening where alcohol was served. There is evidence that the young student was drinking that evening and the police will be interviewing several other attendees of the fraternity party to help determine the cause of death.

Binge drinking on college campuses has become something of an epidemic across the country with the Center for Science in the Public Interest reporting that 44% of students attending 4-year colleges drink alcohol at binge levels or greater. Binge drinking is defined as blood alcohol levels of .08 or above; which correlates to consuming five or more drinks for a male or four or more drinks for a woman over the course of two hours. Additionally, the Century Council reports that 81% of college students have tried alcohol at least once and 68% report having been drunk.

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Every time a person gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, he or she inherently takes responsibility for his or her actions when piloting the automobile. But drivers aren’t always the only responsible parties.

Under Illinois car accident injury law, liability on the part of taverns, liquor stores, and other commercial establishments that serve alcoholic beverages, is what’s known as “Dram Shop Liability.” As a general rule, Dram Shop laws establish responsibility on the part of establishments that arises out of the sale of alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons; if an establishment – or a person acting on behalf of the establishment, such as a bartender or waitress – serves alcohol to a person who seems to be drunk, and the intoxicated patron later causes death or injury to a third-party, the business may be partially liable for negligently contributing to cause that harm. Unsurprisingly, this type of law is often present in Chicago personal injury lawsuits surrounding alcohol-related car crashes

Dram Shop laws are intended to protect the general public from the hazards of actions by drunken persons by creating an incentive – as well as an justification – for businesses to exercise discretion. Nevertheless, apportioning responsibility to the liquor-serving establishment does not eradicate the driver’s personal responsibility. Every driver owes a duty of reasonable care to his or her passengers, other drivers and passengers on the road, and pedestrians. When that duty of care is breached and the driver acts recklessly or negligently – including in situations of driving while under the influence – accidents can and do happen. When they occur, the driver may be held responsible for his or her actions, both in criminal court, and in civil court, and may be forced to pay compensation to victims for the injuries and resulting costs.

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As per a recent report by the Chicago Tribune, a 32 year-old Chicago man was killed in a hit-and-run accident last week at the Near North Side intersection of Division Street and LaSalle Drive.

The victim was identified as a third year law student at Northwestern University Law School, according to university spokesman Alan Cubbage. “A message was sent to the law school community informing them of the death, and we expressed our sympathy to family and friends,” Cubbage said.

The driver of the vehicle, a Jeep Liberty SUV, was a 21 year-old woman, who police suspect may have been intoxicated at the time of the crash. The woman had been driving southbound on LaSalle at approximately 2:30 in the morning when her car struck the victim. Though she tried to flee the scene, she was caught a couple of blocks away.