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Driving Under the Influence Law Challenged in Illinois

Posted on in Criminal Defense

DUI law Illinois, DuPage DUI drug attorneyThe current driving under the influence (DUI) statute in Illinois, last revised in the 1980s, essentially implements a “zero tolerance” policy on driving with any amount of alcohol or substance in a driver’s system. The law will hold individuals that have even trace amounts of drugs in their system responsible for accidents they might not have even caused. A recent 2011 case involving a driver who ran a red light and killed a 10-year-old boy brought the controversial law into the limelight again, though the law had already upheld in two Illinois Supreme Court cases heard in 1994 and 2011.

Understanding the Law

The law, as written, means that if you are involved in an accident where someone is killed or seriously injured, you can be required to submit to a blood test to determine what substances you have in your system. Even if you have not ingested drugs in a month, as was the case for the man charged with an aggravated DUI, you may face criminal penalties. This may be true for any type of drug or controlled substance. The concern is that people are technically driving under the influence whether they are actually impaired at that moment or not.

Two sides emerge then: one that thinks so long as the driver is not presently impaired by the consumption of substances, he or she should not be held responsible for the wrongdoing, and the other side that thinks “if you have any amount of [drugs] in your system and you don’t have a medical marijuana card and we take a blood test and it’s in your system, you are going to jail.”

The Challenge

The Illinois State Bar Association has been particularly outspoken about the possible negative implications of having such a zero-tolerance approach to these situations. The 2011 case mentioned above involved a father being held responsible for the death of his 10-year-old son due to trace amounts of marijuana being found in his system, even though he was not at fault for the accident. He received 30 months of probation, but could have been sentenced up to 14 years in prison for an aggravated DUI.

The Bar Association is supporting Senate Bill 2958, which would remove these controversial terms from the Illinois driving under the influence statute, and make similar offenses independent misdemeanors. These changes are expected to be brought up in the legislature in the spring 2015 session.

What Does This Mean for Me?

It goes without saying that without a medical marijuana card, use of marijuana is illegal in the state of Illinois and may carry its own criminal penalties. As written, the law should deter individuals from participating in any drug-related activity and driving, to ensure the safety of others on the road and since punishment can occur even though there are only trace amounts in your system.

Regardless of the circumstances, if you or anyone you know is facing criminal penalties for driving under the influence, it is important that you understand your rights. Hiring an experienced DuPage County DUI attorney can significantly improve the possibility of a more lenient sentence, or possible dismissal of your charges. At Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C., we have experience working with local prosecutors to negotiate a favorable outcome on your behalf. We are always available to talk to you about your options for defending criminal charges that are pending against you; retaining an attorney early in the stages can greatly increase the possibility of success. Contact us today at 630-472-9700.

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