Generally, motorists in Illinois want to drive responsibly, but the unfortunate fact is that when a person chooses to drive drunk, they put other motorists and passengers at risk of death and injury even if they do not mean to do so.
Currently, there are enhanced penalties when a drunk driver causes a fatal accident. A bill introduced this legislative session, referred to as “Lindsey’s Law,” would make these penalties even harsher.
Under current Illinois law, if a person drives under the influence of alcohol and causes a crash that results in the death of one person, they will be charged with a Class 2 felony and subject to a prison term of three to 14 years. If the crash results in the death of two or more people, the driver will be subject to a prison term of four to 20 years.
Under SB1405 (Lindsey’s Law), if a person drives under the influence of alcohol and causes a crash that results in the death of one person and great bodily injury, permanent disability or disfigurement of another, they will be subject to the same penalties as if the crash had resulted in the death of two people. That is, they will be charged with a Class 2 felony and subject to a prison term of four to 20 years.
The intent of SB1405 is to hold drunk drivers accountable when they cause crashes that kill one and seriously injure others. The law was drafted after a drunk driving accident caused the death of a woman, age 26, and injured the woman’s son and boyfriend.
SB1405 is currently working its way through the legislative process. Still, it has not yet been signed into law, meaning current penalties still stand.
While it is understandable why Illinois wants to hold drunk drivers responsible for their actions, it is essential that the punishment fits the crime. This calls into question whether someone who causes one death following a drunk driving crash should be subject to the same prison term as someone who drives drunk and causes two deaths. A grave injury is serious and unfortunate, but it is not the same as a fatality.