Before the Illinois legislature amended the law, you could be convicted of Aggravated DUI if you were the proximate cause of an accident that resulted in great bodily harm or death, and you had any amount of a controlled substance in your system. The state did not have to prove the drug caused impaired driving. The 2016 changes to the law, also known as the trace law, defines how much marijuana is enough to presume you were impaired.

But what if you can prove that something else really caused your accident? Are you automatically guilty?

A recent Illinois Supreme Court decision has held that a driver may show that another factor was the sole and exclusive proximate cause for an accident. In People v Way, a driver claimed that a sudden loss of blood pressure, rather than the drugs in her system, was the real reason for her crash. The court reasoned that nothing in the law prevented a driver from raising the defense that a sudden, unforeseeable medical condition made the driver incapable of controlling his or her car.

Generally, the state must prove all the elements of your crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Under the trace law, the state must prove you drove with drugs in your system, and you were the proximate cause of an accident resulting in great bodily harm or death. Under the amended law, the state must prove you were over the legal limit for marijuana use. If you claim another factor was the real reason for your accident, the burden of proof now shifts to you.

If you are charged with an Illinois Aggravated DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. If there was another cause for your accident, an attorney can help present the evidence you need in its best possible light. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

See also Illinois DUI law.

(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.)

About mdkeenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 17 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU and the Illinois State Bar Association. I serve as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid. Se habla espanol.
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