DUI Laws in Illinois apply to people who are under the influence of alcohol as well as persons who may be under the influence of drugs. If a Police officer suspects that you are under the influence of any type of drug, even prescription drugs, you may be arrested for DUI. While the elements of a DUI-Drug case are similar to that of a DUI-Alcohol case, the prosecution may not be able to lay the proper foundation to admit all the evidence they need to secure a conviction. An experienced defense attorney will be able to take advantage of these evidentiary requirements in order to get the best disposition possible. Just because you are charged with DUI-Drug does not mean you must be convicted.
OVER THE COUNTER MEDICATIONS AND PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Even if you are taking over the counter medications, or medications for which you have a prescription, you may still be arrested for DUI Drug. Just because you are legally consuming medication does not mean the State won’t bring charges against you. In a DUI-Alcohol case, the State may prove impairment based on a breath test or standardized field sobriety testing. In a DUI drug case the state must prove BOTH that you were taking a substance that has an impairing effect AND that you were actually impaired from the consumption of that substance. Evidence of this type is only admissible through expert testimony. It is often the case that the police officer making the arrest does not have the proper training or qualifications to determine if a person is legally under the influence of drugs. An experienced attorney will take advantage of this and move suppress any evidence obtained by an unqualified or untrained police officer.
MARIJUANA AND CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES - STRICT LIABILITY
Driving while under the influence of marijuana or any controlled substance for which you do not have a prescription is considered a strict liability crime. This means the State does not have to prove that you were actually impaired by the substance at the time of driving. The only thing the State must show to secure a conviction is that you had trace amounts of marijuana or a controlled substance in your system while operating a vehicle. On average, marijuana will stay in a person’s system for 7-10 days but in certain circumstances, trace amounts of marijuana may be detected up to a month after consumption, long after the effects of the drug have worn off. This means a person who has consumed marijuana up to a month ago and is caught driving a car is potentially guilty of DUI.
SHOULD I SUBMIT TO CHEMICAL TESTING?
Unfortunately, it is the reality of our system we live in that the people who cooperate with law enforcement usually suffer the worst consequences. If a person has consumed marijuana a week ago and shows no signs of impairment, the only way they could be convicted of DUI-Drug is if they were to voluntarily give a urine sample to the police. If a person shows no signs of impairment and does not submit to chemical testing, it will be nearly impossible for the State to prove their case.
If you refuse testing or you submit to a test that shows trace amounts of a controlled substance in your system, then your license will become suspend.
DUI DEATH AND STRICT LIABILITY LAWS
DUI Death is a serious charge with a sentencing range of 3-14 years in prison. Until recently, the only thing the State had to prove to get a conviction was that a person had trace amounts of marijuana or a controlled substance in their system and that person was involved in an accident that caused the death of another. The law did not consider who’s fault the accident was or whether the person was actually impaired at the time of the accident.
Recent case law has changed this and the State is now charged with showing BOTH that the person was impaired by a substance AND that impairment was the proximate cause of the accident. DUI-Death cases are extremely complicated, especially when there is an issue of impairment by drugs. Expert testimony will be an integral part of an effective defense strategy that will show a break in the causal relationship between the presence trace amounts of drugs in a person’s system and a traffic accident that caused the death of another.
EFFECTIVE DUI DRUG DEFENSES
In Illinois, DUI is a serious criminal offense. With it come all the protections afforded under the law. Being arrested or charged does not mean that you are automatically convicted and there are several defenses available to a DUI charge, which include:
- The police officer did not have a legally justifiable reason for stopping you
- The police established an illegal roadblock before pulling you over
- The breathalyzer was not calibrated properly
- The records for the breathalyzer were not properly kept
- The Police Officer did not have probable cause to believe you were under the influence of alcohol
- The Police Officer did not have the necessary training to determine a person was under the influence of drugs