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Alleged drunk driver faces jail time, immigration consequences

The attorney for a Cicero woman facing four aggravated DUI charges says his client won't accept any plea deal that includes jail time.

According to prosecutors, the woman was driving home from Aurora around 2 a.m. in October 2017 after leaving a party. Three children were in the SUV with her — her 6-year-old son and her daughters, age 12 and 15. Her 21-year-old sister was also a passenger. The driver lost control on a curve and the SUV ended up in a nearby pond.

She allegedly left her young son in the car after the others got out. Her vehicle was soon submerged. The child was rescued after about 30 minutes by Aurora Fire Department divers. He was hospitalized and on a ventilator for almost three months. He's now living with his father in Mexico.

The woman pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on $150,000 bail. Her attorney says the area where the accident happened is "notoriously dangerous" and that there should be a guardrail and better signage there. She also claims that the road was slippery.

According to her attorney, the woman is deciding whether to let a DuPage County judge sentence her or take a blind plea. If the case is tried before the judge, prosecutors would need to prove that the crash occurred because she was intoxicated and not because of the road conditions. She could face 12 years behind bars if she's convicted. Her blood alcohol content was allegedly over .14 percent. In a blind plea scenario, she would plead guilty and the judge would sentence her. She's due back in court next month.

The woman's case is complicated by the fact that she overstayed the visitor's visa she was issued in 2015. After her arrest, she was placed on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer. An ICE spokeswoman says that "DuPage County Jail failed to honor the ICE detainer" when they released her. The sheriff's office claims ICE didn't present a warrant to them.

This time of year, drunk driving accidents are especially common. Snowy, icy Northern Illinois winters and driving under the influence can be a deadly combination. Besides facing criminal charges, drunk drivers can be held liable in civil court by victims and surviving loved ones. Learn about your options for seeking compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

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