As the end of each school year approaches, juniors and seniors prepare for one of the biggest events in their high school careers. Prom season is the time for fancy gowns, high heels, tuxedos, and stylish arrivals. Many teens decide to rent limos with their group of friends and dates in order to secure a safe and classy ride to the big event. But when limo drivers threaten students’ safety by driving under the influence, New Jersey DUI/DWI lawyers say that the consequences can extend beyond state drunk driving laws.
In Palos Hills, Illinois, high school administrators prepared their students for prom night with lectures on the dangers of drinking or doing drugs and driving, but according to the county police reports, these instructions did not carry over to the drivers hired to escort the promgoers to the dance. On May 11, 2013, Richard L. Madison, a 54-year-old man from Palos Hills, drove more than 20 students to the Oswego East High School prom while under the influence of alcohol. DuPage police reports indicate that Madison was employed by Limos Alive Party Bus, a popular private limousine service.
Oswego’s prom was held at Abbington Banquets in Glen Ellyn, a destination that should have taken 45 minutes to arrive to, but instead took a little less than an hour and a half. On the way to the prom, several of the student passengers became alarmed at their driver’s erratic behavior. They placed phone calls to their parents from the car, reporting that the driver had been weaving through several subdivisions and swerving on the roads. He had jumped over two medians, and briefly turned the car into a ditch before getting back on the road.
The students’ parents called ahead to the prom location, where two off-duty Oswego police officers were part of the security team. The officers notified the Sheriff, and several cops showed up to meet the limo when it arrived with the teenagers. Madison exhibited several signs of intoxication, including red eyes and unsteady weaving while on his feet. Officers conducted a field sobriety test, and took Madison into the county jail, charging him with two counts of driving under the influence, along with one count of reckless endangerment. In the state of Illinois, both these charges are Class A misdemeanors, which is similar to New Jersey’s fourth degree offense charges. Madison claims that he had not been drinking prior to picking up the students, and blamed the erratic driving on faulty mechanism in the limousine.
Along with the standard penalties for driving under the influence, New Jersey DUI/DWI attorneys say that Madison could face additional charges—such as endangering the welfare of minors and students, violating his contract with the students who hired him and the company for which he is employed, and possibly lawsuits from the angry parents whose children were passengers in the limo that night.
The drunk driving attorneys at New Jersey law firm Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, represent anyone facing drunk driving charges.