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Illinois driver charged with out-of-state wrong-way fatality

The names of criminal charges vary state to state for drunk-driving offenses. In Illinois, a driver may be charged with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, with the acronyms DUI or DWI. The same individual pulled over on a Wisconsin road might be arrested for operation of a vehicle while intoxicated or OWI.

Laws in every state use the same term to describe drivers with no regard for the safety of other motorists - negligent. A person who drives drunk may not set out to cause harm but, when he or she does, the lack of intent makes little difference to victims.

An intoxicated driver's excuses for negligent behavior don't matter to a patient with a life-altering permanent disability. The grieving family of a fatally-injured car accident victim has the same loss whether a driver consciously or unconsciously drives drunk.

A 43-year-old Illinois man was recently charged with an out-of-state accident that killed one man and injured another. Authorities in Wisconsin's Marinette County filed OWI homicide and OWI death felony charges against the Lemont resident. With a conviction, each charge carries a maximum prison term of 15 years.

The defendant struck two vehicles while driving through the village of Pound in late September. The 21-year-old victim in one car died; a second, 36-year-old driver was hospitalized with injuries.

Sheriff's deputies said the accused man was impaired while driving down the wrong side of a highway. Alcohol was found in the driver's vehicle. The defendant was released on $250,000 bail. An arraignment may not be scheduled until next month.

Liability damages compensate plaintiffs for the staggering costs of medical care, the inability of families to cope without financial support and companionship and the sad, sudden expenses of a relative's funeral. Settlements and jury awards do not undo what a drunk driver has done, but they can help survivors move forward with some economic support.

Source:, "Lemont man charged with DUI homicide in Wisconsin" Dan Farnham, Oct. 02, 2013

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