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ILLINOIS BOATING ACCIDENT LEADS TO DUI CHARGES

by Robert Kerr

As winter slowly melts away into spring, people are going to be returning to the great outdoors, particularly to boating on the Chicago area’s many lakes and rivers. As people return to outdoor recreational activities, they should remember that drunk driving charges are not only reserved for cars. When people are boating, they must keep their blood alcohol content level under the legal limit of .08 or they could face criminal charges for driving under the influence.
Recently, a man pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI for a boating accident that occurred last summer. According to court records, a family had been out on the Chain O’ Lakes near Lake Villa riding an inner tube. While in the water, a 10-year-old boy fell off of his tube. Before he could be taken out of the water, a 51-year-old man driving a speedboat hit the boy. He died on impact.

Following the accident, police tested the man’s BAC level which came back at a .052. While this level is under the legal limit, the test was performed hours after the accident, and experts speculated that his BAC would have been between .09 and .128 when he hit the boy. Furthermore, the police found cocaine residue and alcohol in the boat. Prosecutors also claimed that drug tests showed cocaine in his blood stream.

This man pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. Under the terms of the plea agreement, a reckless homicide charge was dropped. The man is free on a $1 million bond until his sentencing in June. He faces between three and 14 years in prison.

While this man still faces serious penalties, they could have been worse had he not agreed to the plea deal. A plea deal allows prosecutors to quickly resolve a case, so they are often willing to drop some of the more serious charges in exchange for a guilty plea. However, a plea deal will often leave a person with a criminal record, so it should be carefully considered among other criminal defense strategies.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Man pleads guilty to DUI in boat crash that killed boy, 10,” April 9, 2013, Susan Berger

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