You enjoy smoking pot, but you don’t do it often. About a week after your last toke, you missed a red light and plowed into an oncoming car. The other driver was killed and you were taken to the hospital. After a drug test came back positive for marijuana, you were charged with aggravated DUI, and you now face years in prison.
In the past, in order to enhance DUI charges to a felony, the State had to prove that your use of an illegal drug impaired your driving. Not anymore. Under new Illinois Supreme Court law, the State need only show that your driving caused the accident, and that you used a controlled substance. (People v Martin, Ill. Sup. Ct. (2011), http://www.state.il.us/court/opinions/supremecourt/2011/april/109102.pdf ) The accident must involve death or if children are involved, severe injury. The drug can be a criminal substance such as marijuana or something as innocuous as your spouse’s prescription painkiller. While a misdemeanor DUI is punishable by up to one year in jail, Aggravated DUI is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years.
So with the burden of proof made that much easier for the State, is there anything you can do?
Fortunately, there are still some avenues open to defending an aggravated DUI under these circumstances. The State must still prove that you drove and that your driving was the proximate cause of the accident. What is the evidence that you caused the accident? Was there probable cause to arrest you?
The State must also prove that you consumed the drug. Did the State have a legitimate basis to make you submit to the drug tests? Are the drug tests uncontaminated? Could other substances have caused the same readings?
If you are charged with Aggravated DUI, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not make statements to anyone, especially the police, about the incident. Any statements you make can complicate your case and can be used in evidence against you at trial. An experienced attorney can review your case to devise the best possible strategy for your defense. Even if the State has you dead to rights, an attorney can help negotiate a better plea arrangement than you could on your own.
If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)