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The Implications of Drinking, Driving, and Causing a Car Accident

Posted on in DUI Defense

Illinois DUI defense lawyerImagine this scenario: You had a few drinks uptown, started driving home, and got into a car accident. Do you know the correct actions to take next? Do you understand what can happen if the police have reasonable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence (DUI)? It is important for every driver to know what to do in this type of situation, even if you just had one drink and were not legally intoxicated at the time of the accident.

Do You Have to Call the Police to an Accident Scene in Illinois?

If you have a single-car accident, you only need to call the police and file an accident report if there is over $1,500 worth of property damage.

If your car collides with another motor vehicle or person, Illinois law requires you to stop, render necessary aid, and exchange identification and insurance information. The police must be called to the scene if there is property damage over $1,500 or if anyone is injured or killed.

 If I Call the Police, Will I Have to Take a Breathalyzer Test?

Any time police are called to an accident scene, they will be on the look-out for signs of intoxication. For example, an officer may ask whether you had anything to drink today. Drivers and passengers in this situation are not legally obligated to answer that type of question. However, so as not to appear uncooperative, you might make an unrelated statement such as, “Let me get my license and insurance information out.”

If the police have reason to suspect you were drinking, such as open containers in the vehicle or the smell of alcohol on your person, the police could ask you to perform field sobriety tests or take a portable breathalyzer test. There is no legal penalty in Illinois for refusing these pre-arrest tests. The penalty of driver’s license suspension for refusing alcohol/drug testing only comes into play after someone is placed under arrest for DUI.

Does Illinois Impose a Higher Penalty for DUI Involving a Crash?

The penalties for DUI are not automatically higher when a collision is involved. You would typically just get charged with DUI and possibly another traffic offense, such as failing to obey a traffic signal or reduce your speed to avoid an accident.

However, you can be charged with the more serious crime of Aggravated DUI if:

  • A passenger in your car under the age of 16 sustains “bodily harm” in the accident. This is a Class 2 felony; or
  • Any person involved in the accident (other than yourself) suffers “great bodily harm” such as broken bones, permanent disability, disfigurement, or death. This is a Class 4 felony. In the case of death, it is elevated to a Class 2 felony.

If you are charged with felony DUI, your driver’s license can be revoked two years or more. Other possible penalties may include a fine of up to $25,000, seizure of your vehicle, required participation in a drug/alcohol treatment program, community service, probation, and/or prison time.

Consult an Experienced DuPage County DUI Defense Attorney

If you or a family member has been in a car accident and charged with DUI in DuPage County, talk to an Oak Brook DUI defense lawyer before taking any other action. Let the attorneys at McMahon Law Offices examine the details of your case and recommend a defense strategy. Over the past two decades, we have successfully defended thousands of clients against DUI charges in the DuPage County courts. Call us 630-953-4400 for a free initial consultation.

Sources:

https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/legal-information/what-are-my-rights-when-car-accident-happens

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K11-406

https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/dsd_a118.pdf

 

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