Under Illinois law, a person who drives while intoxicated and causes an accident that kills another person can face many criminal charges. These charges may include reckless homicide. They do not often include first-degree murder, but that extreme charge was filed recently against an Illinois man accused of causing a fatal accident in the Springfield area.
Police said an officer pulled over the man as he was driving on I-55, but the man fled in his car, driving the wrong way on the busy highway. According to police, the man’s car struck two vehicles and then overturned. A woman in one of the cars was killed and two other people were badly injured.
Police tested the man’s blood alcohol concentration after the accident and said it registered at 0.1777%, well above the legal limit of 0.08%. Police said the man told them that he had intended to drive head-on into a semitrailer.
The man faces multiple charges, including first-degree murder and aggravated driving under the influence causing death. In a separate case, the man pleaded guilty to battery charges in connection with the infamous riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
He is being held without the possibility of bail because police declared that he is a threat to himself and others.
First-degree murder charges
First-degree murder charges are considered the most serious homicide charges under Illinois law. To convict a defendant of first-degree murder, prosecutors must prove that the defendant did one of the following:
- Intended to kill or cause serious injury, or knew that what they were doing would cause death or serious injury
- Knew that what they were doing had a high likelihood of causing death or serious injury
- Was, at the time of the death, committing a forcible felony crime other than second-degree murder
Typically, after fatal drunk driving accidents, prosecutors can’t prove that the defendant intended to or thought that they might kill anyone. As a result, they usually do not file first-degree murder charges.
However, any DUI-related homicide charges are extremely serious, and carry penalties that can put a defendant behind bars for years.
These cases may be shocking, but it’s crucial to remember that everyone accused of a crime has the right to a defense. Skilled criminal defense attorneys help the accused to assess their options for protecting their futures.