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Central Illinois Law Blog

Man facing DUI charge following motorcycle accident

An Illinois man was taken into police custody on July 25 following a motorcycle accident that left a passenger with severe injuries. The motorcyclist was believed to be under the influence when the accident occurred.

The accident took place at about 10:30 p.m. near 111th Street and Parker Road in Palos Park. According to the prosecutor, the man was operating the motorcycle with a female passenger when he allegedly lost control of the motorcycle, causing the one-vehicle crash. Both operator and passenger were taken to the hospital. The female passenger reportedly suffered a severe facial laceration that needed stitches, lost teeth and a broken jaw. The report said that the injuries were severe enough that she may be permanently disfigured.

Brain injuries after a truck accident

Most people know brain injuries tend to be a highly serious medical issue. However, it might surprise them to learn that, unlike many other types of trauma, traumatic brain injury can be hard to identify after a truck accident.

TBI typically occurs when the head sustains an impact, as commonly happens in a crash. Head wounds, especially those that penetrate the skull, can indicate the possibility of TBI. However, even people who do not recall hitting their heads may suffer TBI, as an abrupt stop such as often occurs in a crash can cause the brain to hit the interior of the skull hard enough to cause damage.

Should you sue when a dog bites you in Illinois?

Contrary to what people may think, most dog bites do not occur from a dog on a walk attacking a jogger or cyclist; even the mail deliverer is not at the greatest risk. The truth is that most dog bites happen to children and seniors with familiar dogs during everyday interactions, such as playing in the home, reveals the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. When more than one dog is in the home, the risk increases fivefold.

This means that you are more likely to have a dangerous interaction with a dog you know well, such as a close friend's, than a strange one on the street. This fact can make things difficult when a bite occurs. Do you sue your friend and risk damaging your relationship? Do you hold the nice old lady next door legally and financially accountable?

Black defendants face bias from black and white bail judges

According to a new study, bail judges in Illinois and across the U.S. discriminate against black defendants. The bias occurs whether the judges are black or white.

For the study, which will be published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Harvard Law School researchers analyzed 162,836 cases involving 93,914 defendants in Philadelphia County between 2010 and 2014. They also examined 93,417 cases involving 65,944 defendants in Miami-Dade County from 2006 to 2014. They found that bail judges were 2.4 percent more likely to detain black defendants while they await court hearings than white defendants. The study also found that the average bail set for black defendants was nearly $7,300 higher than for white defendants. According to the authors of the study, the findings indicate that judges use racial stereotypes to evaluate whether a defendant is likely to commit more crimes while out on bail.

Distracted driving increases in the summer

According to research conducted by TrueMotion, drivers tend to be more distracted in the months of June, July and August. They reportedly spend 15 minutes per every hour driving looking at their phones, which is a 10 percent increase over the rest of the year. This conclusion was reached by looking at data from 20,000 drivers between January 2017 and May 2018. Distracted driving may occur on Illinois roads at higher rates during the summer because more people are driving.

The summer months provide an increased opportunity for individuals to go on road trips or extended vacations. According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, there are 20 percent more miles driven during the summer months compared to winter months. There are also 29 percent more roadway deaths during the summer. In addition to increased vehicle traffic, drivers should also be aware of the increased pedestrian traffic in June, July and August.

Understanding underage drinking and driving issues

A conviction for driving under the influence is a serious matter for anyone in the state of Illinois. However, the spotlight is brightest on those who are under the age of 21. The good news in Illinois is that DUI arrests for underage drivers decreased between 1986 and 2016. Tougher laws for DUI and DUI prevention programs have contributed to the decline. The Zero Tolerance law in Illinois has also been effective.

After the conviction, getting back on the right path to responsible driving behavior is an important undertaking for young drivers. Underage motorists can have their driving privileges restored once they meet certain conditions. 

Independence Day can feature deadly car crashes

While people in Illinois may associate the Fourth of July with fun, family and celebrations, the holiday can also be strongly associated with danger, particularly in the form of motor vehicle accidents. On Independence Day, record numbers of drivers take to the roads, crowding streets and highways and making accidents more likely to occur. In addition to the large number of cars on the road, those crashes can become more severe as a result of abundant alcohol. The holiday is considered to be America's deadliest weekend every year.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that Independence Day is the day each year with the highest number of fatalities caused by car crashes. Between 2007 and 2011, a full 40 percent of all highway fatalities were related to the Fourth of July weekend and involved drunk driving. Every year, the four-day weekend sees around 200 deaths due to traffic collisions.

New technology may keep drivers away from their smartphones

Smartphones are increasing the number of distracted driving incidents on the roads of Illinois and throughout the rest of America. They have created such an epidemic that many companies are developing technology to stop the harm caused by phones. Whether drivers will use the new technology is another issue; however, a National Safety Council survey of 2,400 drivers in America found that over half would use message-blocking devices if they came pre-set in their cars.

One of the most recent developments is a device called Groove. This product plugs into any car and can link phones to their providers by way of a cloud platform. The providers can then block all communications once they know the user is driving. This means that all calls, messages and social media updates will be prevented. Drivers are also prevented from sending anything. Messages will appear once the car is turned off.

What happens when a juvenile gets a DUI?

There are zero-tolerance laws in Illinois concerning underage individuals who drink and drive. For a first offense, the arrested party may have a suspended driver's license for up to two years as well as the consequences the person's high school or college imposes. 

There are numerous factors that will affect the penalties a minor faces. For example, there would not be as severe consequences if the juvenile's blood alcohol concentration falls between 0.00 and 0.08 percent compared to if the BAC was higher than 0.08 percent. Drunk driving is a serious offense, and a solid defense is necessary.

Self-driving car accidents attract media attention

Illinois readers have probably seen news reports about a recent series of accidents involving autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. The most notorious incident involved an Uber self-driving car that struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. However, there have also been several crashes involving Tesla semi-autonomous vehicles that resulted in injuries.

Some people, including Tesla founder Elon Musk, have been disturbed by the media coverage of these accidents. They feel that reporters should focus on traffic fatalities caused by traditional vehicles, not on the growing pains of a new technology designed to eliminate car crashes. To prove his point, Musk claimed on Twitter that the death rate for regular vehicles is 1 in every 86 million miles, but Teslas have a death rate of just 1 in 320 million.

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