Allegedly Drunk Driver With DUI History Indicted in Fatal Madison County Crash

By October 7, 2010Auto Accidents

As a southern Illinois car accident attorney, it troubles me to read about preventable fatal crashes like one that recently took place in Madison County. According to the Belleville News-Democrat, James L. Griesbaum was indicted by a grand jury indicted on three charges of aggravated driving under the influence — with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or more; resulting in death; and resulting in great bodily harm. His bail was set at $200,000, and he could serve up to 14 years in prison if convicted of all of these felonies. All drunk-driving crashes are preventable accidents, and it is terrible when innocent people lose their lives because of the careless, negligent behavior of drunk drivers.
Griesbaum, 33, of Aviston, was driving north on Illinois 160 near Highland Road in February when his pickup crossed into the southbound lane. He was allegedly drunk when his truck crashed head-on into the pickup truck of Barbara K. Green and her 81-year-old mother, Ressie M. Woodcock. Sadly, Green was killed in the crash and Woodcock was critically injured. Griesbaum had been charged with DUI twice before in the past seven years. The first one came seven years ago when he was arrested for running a flashing red light at the intersection of Illinois 160 and Old Route 50 near Trenton. Griesbaum reportedly almost hit a telephone pole as he attempted to escape the police. He refused to take a blood-alcohol test at the Clinton County Jail, but police noted that he smelled like alcohol, dropped his wallet while getting his license out and failed field sobriety tests. Nonetheless, the DUI charge was dismissed and his license suspension for refusing the blood alcohol test was voided. Two years ago, he again refused a blood alcohol test and was able to beat a second DUI charge. A judicial driving permit allowed him to keep driving.
As a St. Louis car crash lawyer, I find it especially sad that so often, drunk drivers can get away with their dangerous, negligent behavior until someone gets hurt or killed. Someone who beats a DUI charge shouldn’t look at their escape from punishment as a green light to continue driving drunk — they should look at it as a wake-up call. When someone gets behind the wheel of a car, they have a legal and moral responsibility to drive with consideration for the safety of everyone else on and near the road. Someone who gets drunk before driving is clearly acting without regard for others’ safety, not to mention the law. A drunk driver who injures or kills someone can be forced to pay for the damage he or she caused — not just criminal penalties, but civil ones too, through a lawsuit. Victims of drunk driving are not the ones at fault, so the law recognizes that they should not have to pay the costs of an accident they didn’t cause. Instead, the law holds that the person who caused the accident can be required to pay for the physical, financial and emotional harm that results.


For a victim who is severely injured, like Ressie Woodcock, the costs that come with a serious car accident can be very high. Hospital care is expensive, but medical costs don’t end there. Once home from the hospital, a car crash victim may need therapy from a nurse or other medical professional, and help with daily household tasks like cooking and cleaning. They may have to buy another car or truck. The costs from a severe accident like this can quickly get into the tens of thousands without even calculating lost quality of life, pain and suffering, lost past and future wages and the emotional pain of losing abilities, loved ones or both. Even Medicare coverage does not pay for all medical expenses or most long-term care. That’s victims like Woodcock would be wise to consider speaking with an experienced Missouri car wreck attorney right away, before an insurance company representative can convince them to sign away all their rights in exchange for a small settlement.
If you, a family member, or another loved one have been hurt by a drunk driver, please call Carey, Danis & Lowe for a free consultation. You can tell us about your case and we can advise you of your rights. You can call us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400, or send us a message online.