You were singing along with the radio while driving down a rather busy road when a car pulled into the road several yards ahead of you causing you to crash. Although the accident wasn’t your fault, you were still given a ticket for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. (See 625 ILCS 5/11-601(a).)
What does that mean? What can you do?
Under Illinois law, you must slow down as necessary to avoid colliding with any person or vehicle when on or entering a road in compliance with the law and the duty to use due care. To convict you, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you drove carelessly and failed to reduce your speed. The state need not prove that you exceeded the speed limit because the offense does not require speeding. Instead, the State must show that you failed to slow down as necessary to avoid the collision. Proof can include the presence or lack of skid marks, whether the airbag deployed and the extent of damage to your car’s front end.
For example in People v. Galarza, the defendant crashed into a tree and was charged with failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident as well as DUI. Defendant argued that his conviction could not rely solely on the fact there had been an accident. While generally true, the court found other sufficient evidence to convict him: Defendant was intoxicated and had jerked the steering wheel. The car had substantial front-end damage, and the airbag had been deployed. Further, defendant had injured his knee.
If you are charged with a DUI or traffic offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. A verdict can depend on the particular facts of your case. Different judges may view these facts very differently. Therefore, it is important to hire an attorney who is familiar with your courthouse and can present your facts in their most favorable light.
If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)