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Fatal Chicago Area Car Accident By Drunk Driver Traveling Wrong Way

February 7, 2012

After watching the Super Bowl, Jason Wepsiec left his home in Sauk Village to see his fiancé in Plainfield. What Wepsiec and his fiancé did not know is that he would be killed in a car accident later that morning by an alleged drunk driver. Wepsiec was traveling down I-80 outside of Chicago when the operator of an Infinity, traveling the wrong direction, crashed into Wepsiec. At age 34, Wepsiec was killed along with three of the four people in the Infinity including the driver.

According to police, the driver of the Infinity, Gustavo Vargas, was traveling down I-294 when he inadvertently turned onto westbound I-80. Rather then wait until the next exit, Vargas decided to make a U-turn on I-80 heading east in the westbound lanes to get back to the northbound Tri-State expressway. As a result of the head on collision, the Infinity exploded into flames. Both vehicles involved in this horrific car accident are nearly unrecognizable. The impact was so severe that the frontend damage to Wepsiec's Ford Escort extended to the back seat.

According to their initial investigation, Illinois State Police suspect Vargas was intoxicated when he decided to drive the wrong direction down I-80. Shortly before the collision, Vargas and his friends were at a strip club in south suburban Harvey. The sole survivor of the collision suffered serious personal injuries and was sent to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in fair condition.

On average, between 300 and 500 people are killed every year in Illinois auto accidents where at least one driver was legally intoxicated. Under Illinois law, it is a crime for any driver to have a blood alcohol limit of .08% and above. First time offenders will have their license automatically suspended for six months, be fined up to $2,500, be subject to imprisonment for up to one year, and have their licensed revoked for a minimum of one year (among other penalties). Second time offenders face a one-year automatic drivers license suspension, up to a $2,500 fine, possible imprisonment up to 1 year, and have their driver's license revoked for a minimum of five-years (among other penalties).

If a drunk driver causes a fatal car accident, the driver can be sentenced to 28 years in prison. Finally, drunk drivers who cause serious personal injury or wrongful death are also subject to a costly civil lawsuit. If a verdict exceeds the maximum policy limit of insurance for the driver, the driver's personal assets become at risk in order to satisfy the remainder of the judgment.

Sources Used:

Chicago Tribune, 4 Dead In Fiery Wrong-ay Crash: 'I'm Lost For Words, It Hurts So Bad.', February 6, 2012.

CBS Chicago, 4 Killed On I-80 When Wrong-Way Driver Hits Car Head-On, February 6, 2012.

DUI-USA.Drunkdriving.Org, Illinois Drunk Driving, February 6, 2012.
MADD, Penalties For Drunk Driving Vehicular Homicide, Revised April 2011.

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