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Driver pleads guilty to reckless homicide in fatal car accident

Can regular use of medication drugs affect a driver's ability to properly operate a vehicle? A recent hearing suggested that a driver could be adversely affected even if the presence of drugs in the system is minimal. An Illinois man may be facing incarceration of up to five years after pleading guilty to charges of reckless homicide in a car accident that occurred last October.

The prosecution alleged that the conduct of the 61-year-old driver led to the injuries and ultimate death of a 23-year-old woman on Interstate 57. Toxicology tests apparently indicated the presence of Xanax and Lexapro, along with the broken down residue of cocaine in the defendant's system. However, it was reportedly the opinion of a forensic scientist that the drugs in his system did not constitute chemical impairment at the time of the accident.

Laboratory results reportedly showed that the only drug present in the defendant's bloodstream was Lexapro, which had been prescribed by a doctor. However, the level was not high enough to be anything more than therapeutic. It was also determined that the cocaine metabolite resulted from use several days prior to the tragedy. Prosecutors alleged that the fatal accident was the result of recklessness and not by a driver who was chemically impaired. Nevertheless, they announced their intention of mentioning the defendant's drug activity at the sentencing hearing that is scheduled to occur in June.

Illinois residents who have lost a loved one in a car accident may be facing high medical and end-of-life expenses at the time they are focused on grieving. If it is suspected that the other driver was impaired, a claim for financial relief may be pursued. Appropriate evidence of negligence or impairment will have to be gathered in order to substantiate a wrongful death claim in a civil court, and proof of a criminal conviction may be sufficient to establish financial liability. If such a claim is successfully presented, any monetary judgment awarded may provide monetary relief for surviving family members.

Source: effinghamdailynews.com, "Guilty plea in crash that killed Effingham woman", Bill Grimes, April 21, 2015

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