A 36-year-old Illinois man has been sentenced to a prison term of three years in connection with a 2015 drunken driving accident in Chicago that claimed the life of his 29-year-old girlfriend. The sentence was handed down after the man entered a plea of guilty to a felony DUI charge July 19. He will be given credit for the 235 days he spent in the Cook County Jail and will serve two years of supervised release after completing his custodial sentence.
The accident took place after midnight Nov. 27, 2015 on the Dan Ryan Expressway. According to police reports, the man struck a median after losing control of the wheel in the vicinity of U.S. Cellular Field at approximately 12:30 a.m. Police arriving at the scene say that the man admitted to consuming beer at a Thanksgiving party before getting behind the wheel. He is also said to have told officers that he only crashed because he was trying to regain control of his vehicle after his girlfriend had removed her seat belt, struck his head and grabbed the steering wheel.
Toxicology testing revealed his blood alcohol content level to be .135 percent. The legal limit to drive in Illinois is .08 percent. His girlfriend was transported by paramedics to a nearby hospital, but she succumbed to her injuries at approximately 5:55 a.m. Her cause of death was later determined to be blunt force trauma suffered in the accident.
Most criminal cases are settled with a plea arrangement, and both prosecutors and defense attorneys often have good reasons to avoid the uncertainties of a trial. Defense attorneys may seek more lenient treatment for them by pointing out mitigating factors that could paint their actions in a different light and reminding prosecutors that even seemingly strong evidence can be challenged.