Study: Interlock Devices For First Time DUI Offenders Saves Lives

The Washington Post published an article this month about a study performed by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which revealed that traffic fatalities have declined by 7 percent in states that mandate ignition interlocks for first-time drunken-driving offenders.

Interlock devices are installed in vehicles and require drivers to blow into them before the car’s ignition will start the engine. Currently, 22 states require interlock devices for first time DUI offenders. Other states require them for repeat offenders or those with a particularly high blood alcohol content. Some states let the judge decide whether an interlock is appropriate.

The study tracked fatalities for about five years before states began passing interlock laws in the late 1980s through 2013, when all states required them under some circumstances.  The Hopkins study suggested that even those with no previous DUI convictions would think twice about driving under the influence if faced with the prospect that a first-time offense would require them to use an interlock. It says partial laws that don’t mandate the devices for all offenders are less effective. More than a third of the 35,092 fatal car crashes in 2015 involved a driver who had been drinking; 29 percent of them were legally drunk and 20 percent had a blood alcohol content almost twice the legal limit or higher.

I think it is safe to conclude that the states that require interlock devices for first time offenders is saving lives. Drivers are more hesitant to even attempt to drive after drinking if they know they have to face the interlock. I think it would be important to take these findings and perform studies that involve distracted drivers. Wouldn’t you agree that drivers would be more hesitant to pick up their phones while driving if they knew there were very stiff penalties if they were caught texting and driving or they cause car accident while using their cell phone. I think this study is important and we could have predicted the outcome. Now it’s time to use this study into other areas of traffic law, including distracted drivers.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Data Shows Illinois Motorcyclists Are Drinking And Driving At Higher Rate Than Other Motorists

The Illinois Department of
Transportation (IDOT) recently collected auto accident data which revealed that
motorcyclists involved in fatal automobile crashes in the late afternoon and
early evening are more than twice as likely to have been driving under the
influence of alcohol.  IDOT and National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows for the 3 p.m. to 5:59
p.m. timeframe that 15 percent of motorcycle fatalities occurring during that
time involve a drunk rider compared to 6 percent of passenger vehiclefatalities during the same time. Data shows from 6 p.m. to 8:59 p.m. to be even
worse as 24 percent of motorcycle fatalities at that time involve a drunken
rider compared to 11 percent of passenger cars.   

“Whether
you are traveling in a vehicle or riding on a motorcycle, safety should be the
number one priority,” said ISP Colonel Michael Zerbonia. “Every second counts
when it comes to road safety and our officers will be enforcing all traffic
laws and reminding motorists that seat belts save lives.”

In
2012 in Illinois, 148 motorcyclists died in motor vehicle crashes. That was a
slight increase from 2011 motorcycle fatalities when 145 motorcyclists lost
their lives. Motorcycle riders continue to be over-represented in Illinoismotor vehicle crash fatalities. In 2012, motorcycles made up 3 percent of all
registered motor vehicles, yet motorcycle riders represented more than 15
percent of all motor vehicle fatalities.

Obviously
drinking while driving any type of vehicle is incredibly dangerous but the
higher rates for motorcycle driver fatalities is incredibly alarming. The
penalties and criminal implications are the same whether driving drunk in a car
versus a motorcycle, but it appears that more awareness needs to be made for
motorcycle drivers as they are left exposed while riding atop their bikes
unprotected. I will be keeping an eye out to see if IDOT or any other entity
spreads awareness on the danger of drinking while driving a motorcycle.

If
you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago motorcycle accident or
Chicago car accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney Aaron Bryant
for a free legal consultation at 312-588-3384. 

NTSB Recommends States Lower Blood Alcohol Level That Constitutes Drunk Driving

About fifteen years ago,
the National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) made a huge push in this
country to lower to the blood alcohol content that constitutes drunk driving to
.08. Through the federal government they were able to put pressure on
individual states by withholding federal funding for road construction unless
states complied by enacting the new law. This tactic worked and was basically
applauded by lawmakers and interest groups as it appeared to make the roads
safer against drunk drivers.
 

Flash forward to 2013
and the NTSB is now convinced that states should again lower the legal limit
for driving to .05, this according to a report from  NBC Online News. According
to the NTSB 1
0,000
people die in alcohol-related traffic accidents and 170,000 are injured,
according to the NTSB. While that’s a big improvement from the 20,000 who died
in alcohol-related accidents 30 years ago, it remains a consistent threat to
public safety. 

Further,
the NTSB points out most countries in Europe, Asia and Australia have all
lowered the legal BAC limit to .05.  When Australia dropped its BAC level
from .08 to .05, provinces reported a 5-18 percent drop in traffic
fatalities. The NTSB reports that at .05 BAC, some drivers begin having
difficulties with depth perception and other visual functions.  At .07,
cognitive abilities become impaired. 

At .05 BAC, the risk of having an accident increases by 39
percent. At .08 BAC, the risk of having an accident increases by more than 100
percent.

The NTSB believes that if all 50 states changed their standard to
.05, nearly 1,000 lives could be saved each year.  It is also considering
other steps to help bring down the death rates on America’s roads.

The numbers are hard to argue with here.  If drivers fear
being arrested after just a few beers, then there will probably be less drunk
drivers on the road. And, ultimately, this will lead to less car accidents and
traffic fatalities. Regardless, I do not believe this law change is going to
happen overnight. The restaurant, beer and spirit lobby is going push back hard
against this type of rule change. Their argument will be that a lower BAC level
will punish otherwise responsible drinkers and still will not keep hardcore
drinkers off the road. This is a new development worth following in the months
to come.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago trafficaccident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney
Aaron Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-588-3384.

IDOT Launches “Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over” Program For Labor Day Weekend

The Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT), the Illinois State Police and local law enforcement agencies together organized wet lab demonstrations in Chicago and 5 other cities across Illinois.  The events occurred as the 2011 “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Labor Day campaign enters its second week of stepped-up impaired driving enforcement. The wet lab tests were performed to show alchohol’s effect on drivers.

A wet lab occurs in a controlled environment in which a person consumes alcohol to a level of 0.08 BAC (the limit in Illinois).  This allows observation of the real-life effects of impairment and the significant effects of alcohol on a person’s motor skills.  Volunteer participants in today’s events attempted Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) administered by police officers to show what happens in an actual Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrest.  In addition, the drinking subjects showed how a vehicle equipped with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) will not start when an impaired person attempts to drive.

The SFSTs are a sequence of three tests administered and evaluated in a standardized manner to obtain indicators of impairment as it relates to a DUI charge.  The tests are administered systematically and are evaluated according to measured responses of the suspect.

“Illinois State Police want motorists to arrive at their final destinations safely during the holiday weekend and will be targeting designated areas looking for speeders, seatbelt violators, distracted drivers, and DUI offenders ,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau.  “These are the Fatal 4 violations ISP will be enforcing during the holiday weekend.  Violating any of these laws can result in fines and possible jail time and will be treated as criminal acts by the police and court system,” he added.

It will be interesting to see the final arrest numbers around the state and also the number of alcohol related car accidents during this crackdown. If there are an abnormally high number of arrests, will this be because of the increased number of police on patrol?  Or will the numbers of arrests and/or car accidents be higher due to the holiday weekend? I think it is critical to look at the numbers a little deeper rather than take them at face value when determing the programs effectiveness. Regardless, this will be positive if there are a lower number of auto accidents than the typical labor day weekend.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com.

NHTSA Reports Study On Drinking And Driving

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration  released some startling numbers regarding drink and driving in their report titled: “National Survey On Drinking and Driving Attitudes and Behaviors.”  The survey concluded that and estimated 17 million motorists in the U.S. may have driven while drunk in the preceding 12 month and twenty percent of the public 16 and older had in the past year driven a motor vehicle within two hours of drinking alcohol.  About two-thirds of these, or 13 percent of the total population 16 and older had done so in the past 30 days. The survey produced an estimate of 85.5 million past-month drinking-driving trip, up from 73.7 million trips in 2004.

The scary part of the of this survey is the resulting damage that these drinking and driving trips have caused. Among persons 16 and older involved in a motor vehicle crash in the past two years, 20% reported that someone had been injured in the (most recent) crash. Respondents were more likely to report that an involved driver had been drinking alcohol if the car crash  led to injury (32%) than if no injury occurred (5%).

About 1% of the population 16 and older had been arrested for a drinking and driving violation in the past two years; the percentage was 5% for males 21 to 24. Almost three-fourths of the public believed that drivers who had too much to drink to drive safely would be somewhat likely (40%), very likely (21%), or almost certain (12%) to be stopped by police.

These are some eye-opening statistics. Remember, it is very simple to pick up the phone and call a cab or a friend. You may be protecting yourself and others, let alone the  avoiding the legal problems that can ensue.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago trucking accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney  Aaron Bryant for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com

Lawsuit Filed Against Lockport Police Officer For Fatal DUI Accident

A Lockport police officer, who allegedly made a deadly mistake by drinking and driving, is now facing a wrongful death lawsuit.

The family of a Chicago man, who was killed Dec. 20 when an allegedly intoxicated off-duty Lockport police officer crashed into his car, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, seeking more than $20 million.

Man Wong, 29, 2417 S. Wentworth Ave., died in the crash on the Stevenson Expressway near Central Avenue in which police officer Edward Stapinski was charged with reckless homicide and aggravated drunken driving.

Stapinski, 34, of Lockport, was southbound on the Stevenson about 9:30 p.m., when he lost control of his car, struck the concrete median barrier and went over the median into the northbound lanes, where it struck a car driven by Wong, according to state police.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, are Stapinski, WestEnd Bar and Grill in Chicago, where Stapinski allegedly was drinking before the crash, and the Four Corners Tavern Group, which operates the bar.

The lawsuit claims that Stapinski was “severely impaired” after drinking alcohol at the tavern and that his blood-alcohol level was recorded at a hospital at about three times the legal limit.

Depending on Officer Stapinski’s insurance policy, this may be a case where an underinsurance or uninsured claim is made.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an Illinois car accident or Illinois truck accident or have been charged with DUI, aggravated drunk driving or another traffic violation, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.

Illinois Transportation Officials Launch Operation Save 100

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois State Police (ISP) announced on November 13 the “Operation Save 100” campaign, which is aimed at having 100 less fatalities on the roadways this year.

Operation Save 100 will run through the end of 2009. During this eight week enforcement campaign, more than 400 law enforcement agencies will be asked to enhance operations and provide weekly activity and car crash reports. The earned media campaign will consist of television and radio interviews, bi-weekly press releases, periodic news conferences and community activities statewide. In addition, IDOT/DTS’s Occupant Protection, Impaired Driving, Motor Carrier and Operation Teen Safe Driving Programs will also be leveraged to drive the Operation Save 100 initiative to fruition.

“An integral part of the ISP’s mission is to promote public safety and improve the quality of life in Illinois as we strive toward the state’s goal of Zero Fatalities on our roadways,” said Director Jonathon Monken. “That vision is shared by the men and women of the Illinois State Police through their commitment to traffic safety initiatives such as Operation Save 100. Through directed patrols, our officers have dedicated themselves to reducing the number of traffic fatalities in Illinois during 2009.

In 2007, 1,248 highway fatalities occurred on Illinois roadways. In 2008, 1,043 fatalities were reported. If less than 1,000, highway fatalities occur across Illinois in 2009, Illinois will join a small, elite group of states who have experienced less than 1,000 highway fatalities. Highway fatalities in Illinois have plummeted from a high of 1,454 in 2003 to lows not seen since 1923. The downward trend has accelerated with highway fatalities down on a provisional basis as of November 10th, from 883 at this time last year to 781.

To read the entire press release, click here.

This is an excellent initiative by IDOT and ISP. Let’s hope they reach their goal.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an Illinois car accident or an Illinois truck accident, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.

Transportation Secretary LaHood Lauches Holiday Crackdown On DUIs

USA Today recently reported Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is launching a national crackdown on DUI and Drinking and Driving during the holiday season.

“Our feeling is in states where you have real tough law enforcement, where the law enforcement people are no-nonsense, those are the states that have been able to reduce their numbers,” LaHood said. “In states where they don’t have tough law enforcement, or they don’t do it as aggressively as other states, the numbers are not that good.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the drunken-driving fatality rate in the USA declined about 7% from 2007 to 2008, continuing a decades-long drop. Drunken-driving deaths have been trending downward since 1982, two years after Mothers Against Drunk Driving began focusing attention on the issue. There were 11,773 such fatalities in 2008, a 44% drop from the 21,113 in 1982, according to NHTSA and U.S. Department of Transportation data

LaHood, White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske and John Saunders of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) launched the annual national winter holiday crackdown on impaired driving. Thousands of law enforcement agencies across the USA will be targeting drunken driving in the campaign, which runs through New Year’s Day. Each state has its own version.

To read the complete story, click here. 

Drinking and driving deserves this type of press from the federal government. It is a great step towards making the roads safer during the holiday season. Remember to appoint a designated driver or to use cabs when you are out and about attending holiday parties.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an Illinois car accident or an Illinois truck accident, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.