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.

New Study Shows That Device Would Prevent 59,000 Drunk Driving Deaths Per Year

Bloomberg News reported last week that a new University of Michigan Study revealed that if a drunk driving device was installed into every vehicle, it could prevent up to 59,000 traffic fatalities every year. Current ignition interlock technology, which has been around since the 1960s, prevents a vehicle from being started if a driver’s breath registers a certain amount of alcohol. In recent years, some states have mandated their use for convicted drunk drivers.

Typically, this type of device is only required if someone has been charged with a DUI and their license has been suspended for blowing over the legal limit or refusing to blow. For instance, in Illinois, if someone has their license suspended by the secretary of state, they can legally drive during their suspension if the driver pays to have this device installed. Other times, judges can order that this type of device be installed as part of probation for repeat offenders.

It can be assured that this type of technology will seek opposition. First, there will be the cost by automakers and consumers. Will they want to pay for this device and should they be forced to?  Also, it will be interesting to see if there will be any backlash from the ACLU as this could be viewed as an infringement on people’s privacy.

I think safety advocates will view this similar to the seat belt and air bags. Before those two devices who introduced into the marketplace, they were viewed as too expensive and the government pushing too far into what drivers can or cannot do. Obviously, through the years we all know that seat belts and airbags have saved thousands of lives and prevented serious injuries. Further, driving in this country is not a right. Driving is considered a privilege. A privilege that you have to qualify for by passing tests, paying for insurance and following the rules of the road.

University of Michigan’s Injury Center and Transportation Research Institute said in the study, released Thursday, that cost savings from widespread use of ignition interlock technology could outweigh the expense of the devices after three years.

“The goal is to develop a system that can accurately and reliably detect when a driver is above the legal alcohol limit and that could be offered as original equipment in new cars on a voluntary, market-driven basis,” Gordon Trowbridge, a NHTSA spokesman, said in a statement.

“Automakers will have to be convinced, and make sure that the costs of the technology are something that consumers are willing to pay for and they want,” said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.

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 Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

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.

A Third Of Cook County Fatalities Linked To Drunk Drivers

The Chicago Sun Times recently released  car accident fatality statistics , which showed that from 1994 to 2008, one third  of all  Cook County car accident fatalities were related to drunk driving. The analysis was performed by Scripps Howard New Services.

As part of the project, Scripps Howard researchers counted the number of deaths on every road in America, using data provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Scripps analyzed 562,712 fatal accidents from 1994 to 2008 that claimed 627,433 lives.

While the carnage has fallen in recent years — 37,261 individuals died in vehicular accidents in 2008 — that’s still more than 10 times the number who died in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Most of the traffic fatalities can be attributed to excessive speed, alcohol-impairment or failure to wear seat belts. Drivers distracted while texting, eating or using their cell phones are also a growing concern.

“People may feel more comfortable drinking and driving in rural areas, thinking that they are not as likely to get caught as on major roads,” concluded Lee Munnich, director of the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety at the University of Minnesota.

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

IDOT And Illinois State Police Kick Off Impaired Driving Campaign

On February 4, The Illinois Department of Transportation announced  its new impaired driving campaign with the Illinois State Police. The program is titled Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. The timing of this campaign is an attempt to prevent drunk driving during Super Bowl weekend, which is notorious for football fans being out and about at various parties and watering holes.

“Throughout Super Bowl weekend, the Illinois State Police will remain diligent in enforcing driving under the influence and the other fatal five violations, including speeding, safety belt use, improper lane usage and following too closely,” said Illinois State Police Director Jonathon Monken.  “Law enforcement recognizes the big game brings fans together to celebrate, and alcoholic beverages are often part of the celebration.  If you choose to drink, don’t drive.  Ask someone to be a designated driver prior to starting your celebration or call a taxi service to make sure you arrive home safely.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety suggests the following tips for those planning to consume alcohol while watching the Super Bowl:

  • Designate a sober driver before the party begins;

  • Call a taxi, use mass transit, or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely; 

  • Use your community’s designated driver program, if established;

  • Report impaired drivers to law enforcement;
     
  • Spend the night where the activity is being held and sleep it off;
     
  • Always buckle up – it’s your best defense against an impaired driver.

Remember to be careful on the roads this weekend.

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

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.

Family Mourns Victim Of Hit And Run Accident

Chicago has been plagued by several pedestrian related auto accidents the past few weeks. Chicago Breaking News reported recently that the family of Maria Worthon, who was struck and killed by a vehicle in her Rogers Park neighborhood last week, mourned at her funeral.

Maria Worthon, a nursing assistant, was remembered at a church across the street from where she was fatally struck by a car on Dec. 21 while walking with her son, Jerermiah, who also was hit.

The 6-year-old boy made it out of the hospital in time to attend his mother’s funeral. An uncle picked him up to get a last glimpse of his mother before the casket was closed.

“I got better, because I (saw) her,” the boy said at the service.

The driver in the hit-and-run was fleeing police at 70 to 80 mph and did not stop or slow down after striking Jeremiah and Worthon, who died at the scene in the 7000 block of North Greenview Avenue.

Ralph Eubanks, whom authorities said had traces of cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana in his blood, was ordered held without bail last week on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated DUI and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

“This stinks,” Rev. Deborah Patton said during Worthon’s eulogy. “Maria’s death in particular was thoughtless, unnecessary and irresponsible.”

This is very sad news for Ms. Worthon’s friends and family. I think we can foresee a wrongful death lawsuit against Ralph Eubanks. This is a dangerous time of year to be on the roads for both drivers and pedestrians. Remember to be careful. There are a lot of crazy drivers out there.

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

Illinois Ranks Eighth Deadliest State For DUI Fatalities

The National Highway Safety and Traffic Safety Association (NHSTA) released the 2007 and 2008 data for alcohol related highway deaths. Unfortunately, Illinois ranked as the eighth deadliest state.

There was some encouraging news as 2008 compared to 2007, the overall fatality rate declined from 1.36 to 1.25 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel (VMT), and the alcohol-impaired driving fatality rate declined from 0.43 to 0.40 highway fatalities per 100 million VMT. From 2007 to 2008, the alcohol-impaired-driving fatality rate declined in 40 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and remained the same or increased in the remaining 10 States.

Impaired-driving laws have been enacted in all 50 States and the District of Columbia that make it illegal for a driver or a motorcycle rider with a BAC of .08 or above to drive a vehicle. In 2008, the alcohol-impaired-driving fatality rate declined from 0.43 highway fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2007 to 0.40 in 2008.

Hopefully 2009 statistics will show a decline for Illinois and the stricter DUI laws led to safer for roads.

To read the complete news release and view all of the statistics, click here.

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.

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.