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Illinois county's idea for remembering drunk driving victims

We have discussed the issue of drunk driving on multiple occasions, and the number of lives that are lost and ruined in and around Chicago by people driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Now one downstate Illinois county wants to make the reminders to drivers personal.

Peoria County is considering a measure that would allow it to put up "Don't Drink and Drive" road signs that each include a memorial plaque with the name of a person who died as the result of a drunk driver. The recommendation, made by the county engineer and approved by the transportation committee, is now in the hands of the county board, which will consider it in January. The signs could start going up as soon as spring of this year.

The idea is not completely new in Illinois, or even in Peoria. On the city's War Memorial Drive, a blue "Please Don't Drive and Drive" marks the spot with the name of someone who was killed there in 2006. According to a story by Peoria NBC affiliate WEEK, the victim was a 26-year-old man walking home on the side of the road when he was struck and killed. The Illinois Department of Transportation, at the urging of the victim's mother, placed that sign. If the Peoria measure is approved, family members can request a sign with a memorial plaque in their loved one's honor through the county. The family would pay about $200, which is what the state charges.

The county engineer who proposed the signs said that they would use the same procedure for obtaining information about the person being memorialized as the IDOT currently uses. She says the legal issues have already been worked out, so this would save them the "legwork" of having to take care of that.

Any step that puts a name to the usual "Don't Drink and Drive" warning can only help make people think twice, even if they are already behind the wheel. A drunk driving car accident can change a person's life forever, and if a loved one dies, a family is never again whole. While criminal penalties have gotten stricter over the years, families can and should seek damages through civil litigation to help cover medical expenses, burial costs, and lost wages so that even though they are consumed by grief, they don't have to be consumed by debt as well.

Source: Peoria Journal=Star, "Peoria County considers memorial signs for drunken driving victims" Andy Kravetz, Dec. 24, 2013

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