Alcohol use suspected in fatal Illinois pedestrian accident

Illinois media outlets have reported that a guitarist in a popular Chicago band may have been under the influence when he allegedly hit and killed a pedestrian on the evening of Aug. 21. The 33-year-old man's bail was set at $200,000 when he appeared in a Cook County court on Aug. 23 to face drunk driving charges. The pedestrian accident took place on West North Avenue in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood at approximately 8:24 p.m.

An off-duty police officer claims that he saw the pedestrian crossing the street in a marked crosswalk when he was struck, and he says that the driver seemed unsteady on his feet after pulling over and exiting his vehicle. He estimated the vehicle's speed to be about 40 mph.

Responding officers stated that the driver smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes when they arrived at the scene. According to reports, the driver also refused to perform a field sobriety test. According to a Cook County prosecutor, the man's blood alcohol level was subsequently measured by a breath test six hours after the accident. The test is said to have found his blood alcohol level to be .161 percent, which is more than double the .08 percent legal limit in Illinois.

While penalties for drunk driving can be severe when an accident leads to injury or death, proving these charges is sometimes a challenge for prosecutors. This type of case often hinges on the results of toxicology tests used to measure a suspected drunk driver's blood alcohol level and the statements of police officers involved. An attorney could closely scrutinize such evidence as it may be inadmissible if strict protocols were not followed.

Source: NBC Chicago, "Chicago Guitarist Charged With DUI In Fatal Crash", August 27, 2014

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