Millions of people include alcohol in their holiday celebrations, and this is reflected in the number of injury and fatality accidents that occur at these times. According to Illinois statistics provided by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 46 percent of the fatalities occurring on holidays during 2011 were caused by drunk drivers. Nationally, approximately 38,700 arrests were made that year because of drivers who were under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Due to the serious nature of these accidents, victims and family members often benefit from consultation with a Chicago accident lawyer.
Dangerous behaviors often indicate a drunk driver
The organization, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), provides many tips to help identify and avoid drunk drivers during the holidays. A driver under the influence often displays behaviors that include the following:
- Weaving back and forth between lanes
- Changing speeds
- Following too closely
- Slamming on the brakes
When these behaviors are noted, a Chicago accident lawyer encourages the sober driver to take precautions to avoid a motor vehicle crash. It is dangerous to flash headlights at drivers who may be under the influence because they may panic and create a more dangerous situation. Even though it is best to attempt to get away from the potential for a crash, trying to speed around may cause the other driver to swerve or speed up, increasing the risk.
If possible, a driver should lag behind the vehicle and get license plate information before pulling off the road to call 911. The safest way to avoid an accident with a drunk driver is to take the next turn or exit to create distance and avoid an action that leads to serious injury.
Stiff penalties do not eliminate risks
In Illinois, the consequences for the first incident of arrest for driving under the influence include a license suspension, possible jail time and penalties and court fees that could exceed $2,000. In spite of the high cost of breaking the law, about one-third of the drunk driving arrests are repeat offenders. According to statistics on the MADD website, approximately two-thirds of the drunk drivers who cause injury or fatality accidents have never been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Between 2009 and 2012, alcohol-related fatality car accidents have hovered between 300 and 400 per year. Victims and family members can benefit from representation by a Chicago accident lawyer who will fight for adequate compensation for personal injuries, property damage, pain and suffering.