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Drunk driving law reduces Illinois traffic fatalities

We accept many dangers when we take to the road by car or on foot. Inattentive drivers can miss vital details like a traffic light or turn signal, and negligence with a motor vehicle can cause severe property damage, injuries and sometimes fatalities.

Drunk driving is one of the greatest dangers to public safety, since every driver is incompetent if he or she is drunk. Alcohol and drugs are responsible for a concerning number of vehicular injuries and deaths every year.

Illinois experienced a particularly dangerous trend of drunk driving, with impaired drivers causing 534 deaths in 1996. The state enacted legislation to expand the definition of drunk driving the next year, joining 14 other states in using a blood alcohol level of .08.

Every U.S. state now uses the same baseline at traffic stops and other ways to identify drunk drivers. Illinois has seen improvement under this law, with drunk driving-related fatalities dropping by around 43 percent in its first two decades.

"Illinois' 0.08 law is one of the greatest lifesaving pieces of legislation to become law," according to the father of a victim of drunk driving. "Today, more people decide against getting behind the wheel after drinking, which has prevented countless tragedies."

The Illinois State Police and local law enforcement agencies do what they can to prevent driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and concerned citizens are watchful against erratic or dangerous driving.

Victims of increasingly rare drunk driving-related accidents have rights to seek compensatory and punitive damages to rectify medical or financial consequences.

Source: Northwest Herald, "Drunk driving fatalities down in 20 years since Illinois DUI law," Alex Ortiz, Aug. 19, 2017

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