Aggravated DUI & Causation

Case Name: People v. Johnson (.pdf)

Court: Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District

Date Decision Filed: 6/25/09

In this case, the defendant’s car collided with another car at an intersection.  As a result of the collision, one of the defendant’s passengers died and another received serious injuries.   When tested, the defendant had a BAC of .099.  He also had cannabinoid metabolites in his blood.

The statute applicable to the defendant’s case elevates a DUI to Aggravated DUI if death or great bodily harm occurs due to a vehicle crash and the DUI was a proximate cause of the death or great bodily harm.  A proximate cause is enough; there is no requirement that the DUI be the exclusive and immediate proximate cause.

Prior to the crash, the defendant had been racing with another vehicle.  Immediately before the crash, he went through a yellow light.  The defendant saw the vehicle that he hit, but he thought that the vehicle would stop.  One passenger in the defendant’s car “believed [the] defendant should have slowed down and stopped.”  The driver of the other car testified that he (the other driver) had a green light.  Despite this testimony, the light may have actually been red.

The defendant challenged the existence of proximate cause and the Appellate Court rejected the defendant’s challenge:

Considering [the] defendant’s impairment, along with his erratic driving in speeding down [the road], a reasonable person could foresee injury as a likely result of his conduct.  . . .  Evidence that [the other driver] may have run a red light does not negate [the] defendant’s actions as being a proximate cause of the victims’ injuries.  While [the] defendant’s actions were not the sole and immediate proximate cause of the victims’ injuries in this case, the evidence sufficiently established his actions were a proximate cause and satisfied the elements for a conviction of aggravated DUI.

Jeremy Richey

Jeremy J. Richey, Attorney at Law
© Jeremy J. Richey and The East Central Illinois Criminal Law & DUI Weblog, 2008-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.