Chicago, IL- A night of drinking and partying for one Illinois teen ended in heartbreak for the family of an Indiana construction worker.
Eric Lopez, 19, was over twice the legal limit Saturday night around 4:15 a.m. when he ran into a construction zone on South Western Avenue, killing 58-year-old Jose Tafoya.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Lopez had just attended a party where he got into a fight. With two passengers in his car, Lopez still angry over his confrontation, began driving recklessly, weaving in and out of construction zone barriers.
Lopez then struck Tafoya who was standing behind a paving machine, throwing him several feet onto the sidewalk before crashing into the paver. Tafoya was killed instantly.
Lopez and two of his passenger were also injured. The Tribune reported that one of Lopez’s passengers suffered spinal injuries and the other incurred facial injuries.
Lopez’s blood alcohol content shortly after the fatal drunk driving accident was .195. He has been charged with reckless homicide, aggravated DUI, misdemeanor DUI. He is currently still in the hospital and was unable to appear in court Monday where his request for bail was denied.
Drinking and driving is seriously dangerous for anyone regardless of their age, but when a inexperienced driver is behind the wheel, the chances of being in a fatal or injurious accident is much greater.
A 2012 CDC study showed teen drunken driving has declined over the past two decades. In 1991, 22 percent of teens admitted to driving drunk, but that decreased to 10.3 percent in 2012. Car accidents, however, still remain the leading cause of accidental death in teens.
This accident serves as a clear example of why driving under the influence is so dangerous and why the DUI laws pertaining to underage drivers are so stringent. When drunk, people can act irrationally and make very bad decisions. Decisions they would not normally make when they’re sober.
Most drunk drivers have no intention of harming others but it happens far too often so the courts treat intoxicated motorists harshly. Many states, Illinois included, have zero-tolerance policies in place which forbid teens from driving with any amount of alcohol in their system.
Being convicted of drinking and driving as a teen can have numerous consequences, the severity of which is exacerbated when an accident involving injuries and death. A DUI conviction at an early age can affect a teen for years, forbidding them from getting a good education and barring them from
While Lopez should have to pay for his actions Saturday night, he also deserves to present a defense on his behalf.
With help from a DUI attorney, any person, teen or adult, can mitigate some of the harsher penalties resulting from a DUI conviction or avoid being convicted altogether. Some people have the mistaken impression that they can fight a DUI without legal counsel.
If you are facing a DUI, the wisest decision you can make is to retain one of our exceptional DUI attorneys to work on your defense.