Proposed Illinois legislation will allow courts to impose harsher penalties for wrong-way drivers who cause accidents. A car accident attorney Chicago often sees serious injuries and fatalities caused by wrong-way drivers on busy Chicago expressways.
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Chicago experiences a large number of accidents and injuries caused by wrong-way drivers, especially on busy expressways, exit and entrance ramps, and toll roads. These accidents often result in serious injuries and fatalities. Illinois accident statistics show that more than 50 deaths and another 300 injuries caused by wrong-way drivers since 2005. Chicago police reports show that many wrong-way accidents are caused by impaired drivers who are intoxicated on alcohol and/or drugs.
In December 2016, a 70-year-old man driving east in the westbound lanes of the Chicago Skyway caused a head-on collision that killed a 50-year-old man. In early January 2016, a 15-year-old girl with a driver’s permit was killed when she was hit by a wrong-way driver in Chicago’s loop. Several weeks later a driver traveling the wrong way on I-80 crashed head-on into a large, semi tractor-trailor about two miles east of Ridge Road. Illinois Department of Transportation reports show that four more people were killed and nine more were injured by wrong-way drivers state-wide in 2016.
Over the last few years, Illinois has made efforts to reduce the number of wrong-way accidents and injuries seen by a car accident attorney Chicago. Efforts include increased police enforcement, as well as large red directional signs installed on expressway entrance and exit ramps to alert approaching drivers.
Current Illinois laws do not allow judges to factor wrong-way driving into penalties or sentencing, but proposed legislation would allow additional penalties for wrong-way drivers. Under current state statutes, impaired drivers who kill someone are subject to a sentence of three to 14 years behind bars, but judges can impose as little as probation in “extraordinary circumstances.” Current Illinois sentencing statues allow tougher sentences for impaired drivers, reckless drivers, and drivers who exceed the speed limit by more than 20 mph or are repeat offenders. Proposed legislation would allow judges to impose additional prison time and stiffer penalties for impaired wrong-way drivers who are convicted of aggravated DUI.
Illinois lawmakers are strongly in favor of tougher penalties for impaired wrong-way drivers. Proposed Bill 303 bill has been approved by the state house, but it still needs approval by the state senate, as well as Governor Bruce Rauner to become law.