Illinois Expands The Offense of Vehicular Endangerment

Gun Shot in the glassThere have been many stories and many incidents over the years, when people would drop or throw heavy objects, such as large rocks, down onto highways from overpasses (any structure that passes over a highway), causing severe property damage, as well as great bodily harm, or even death, to vehicle occupants. Illinois previously had a law on the books that made this action a Class 2 Felony, and if a death resulted, a Class 1 Felony, punishable by anywhere from four to fifteen years in prison. But apparently, experience demonstrated that the law, as originally written, was not comprehensive enough to fully protect the general public from people throwing or dropping objects from above onto highways when the object originated from an area not covered under the definition of “overpass.”

So, effective January 1, 2017, Chapter 720, ILCS, Section 5/12-5.02 has been amended to forbid not only dropping objects (defined as anything that is big enough or heavy enough to likely cause great bodily harm to someone if dropped onto them on a highway) from overpasses. The new law has added other elevated locations, defined as bridges, highway ramps, buildings, artificial structures, hills, mounds, or natural elevations above, or adjacent to and above, a highway (which encompasses any publicly maintained roadway). So, under the new law, one does not have to be directly over a highway, one could be anywhere above the highway surface, and commit a violation by throwing or dropping an object down upon a vehicle travelling on such a road.

The statutes and ordinances in Chicago and throughout Illinois are full of laws that are either poorly drafted or too limited in scope (such as this original law) or too old (such as Chicago ordinances that still refer to trolley cars and horses). Eventually laws such as these get fixed, as the law of vehicular endangerment recently did, but until that happens, sometimes loopholes remain for those charged with such crimes.

If you are charged with any violation of the law, you need the services of an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney to represent you and to protect your interests, your good name, and your freedom. You need the attorneys at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC. We can meet you in Arlington Heights, Chicago or other locations near you. Call us today at (312) 644-0444 to schedule your free, no obligation confidential consultation with an experienced attorney.

Written by Mitchell S. Sexner Last Updated : October 18, 2019