Archive for the ‘Drugged Driving’ tag
January 11th, 2014 at 2:06 pm
On January 1, “Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program laws officially went into effect, but individuals that would qualify for the state’s program may have to wait another year or more before they’re able to utilize said laws,” reports the Huffington Post. With marijuana legalization laws going into effect in Washington and Colorado states, there has been much discussion about changing DUI laws to specifically limit marijuana. Such legislation was introduced into the Colorado Senate as early as May 2013. The measure, according to a different Huffington Post article, “sets a THC-blood limit for Colorado motorists—a concept which has failed six times in the last three years in the state legislature.”
DUI marijuana bills are hard to pin down, however. “Opponents stay that the 5 nanogram standard is too low for frequent pot smokers, especially medical marijuana patients, who regularly have this level of THC in the bloodstream,” reports the Huffington Post. Legalization of marijuana for medical use, such as the law that just went into effect in Illinois, is usually the first step toward further legalization of the drug. If marijuana is ever legalized in Illinois, there will likely be a DUI law debate similar to the one currently underway in Colorado.
According to the Marijuana Policy Project, Illinois has some of the harshest marijuana penalties in the nation. Drugged driving laws, of course, are necessary—“drugged driving puts at risk not only the driver but also passengers and others who share the road,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2012, “an estimated 10.3 million people aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed.” After alcohol, according to the NIDA, THC (the active ingredient in pot) “is the substance most commonly found in the blood of impaired drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims.”
November 29th, 2013 at 3:40 pm
Willie Craft Sr., 58, of Urbana, was charged in mid-November “with two felony counts of driving under the influence and one count of reckless homicide,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Craft was piloting a pick-up when he went over a curb and “struck two students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, killing one of them.” It was later discovered that Craft had marijuana in his system at the time of the crash, according to Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz and as reported by the Tribune. Craft was initially “cited for driving without insurance and improper lane usage,” after the incident, but according to Rietz it was upon further investigation that officials stated that Craft was driving under the influence. He was also “not properly treating his diabetic condition,” according to the Tribune.
Mimi Liu, 20, of Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood was killed in the crash, and another student was injured. According to Rietz, Craft “told officials he was driving on the day of the crash for the first time in three years with the intent of getting insurance for his vehicle.” He had previously stayed away from getting behind the wheel because of his diabetic condition, according to the Tribune. That day, according to the Tribune, Craft said that, “he did not eat breakfast that morning even though he knew he needed it to keep his blood levels up.”
According to NORML, a non-profit that works to reform marijuana laws, Illinois is one of a handful of states that enforces per se drugged driving laws, in which a driver who tests positive for an inactive THC metabolite can be slapped with a DUI. This byproduct, however, “may be present in the urine of daily cannabis consumers for several weeks, or even months, after past use.”
A Court of Appeals in Arizona earlier this year deliberated a case involving the per se law in Arizona, and upheld the validity of the state’s per se law. As an attorney told the USA Today, “as things stand, a person from Arizona could go on a snowboarding trip to Colorado or Washington state, where marijuana is legal… and then a month later… get stopped and be convicted of DUI.”
November 25th, 2013 at 3:23 pm
Not all DUIs involve alcohol. For Carly Rousso, the “Highland Park woman charged last year with ‘huffing’ a computer cleaning product before the vehicle she was driving struck and killed a 5-year-old girl” was scheduled to face trial this November, according to the Chicago Tribune. Before the trial could begin, however, lawyers debated just what substances count when it comes to driving under the influence, and debated just which kind of intoxicating effects count toward a DUI charge. “The cleaning product police,” according to the Tribune, “say what she inhaled contains difluoroethane, which is not spelled out as an intoxicating substance in the law.”
Rousso, now 19, has been charged with four counts of aggravated DUI and reckless homicide. She is currently out of jail on $500,000 bond. “If convicted on all charges,” reports the Tribune, “she faces up to 26 years in prison, according to prosecutors.” In mid-November, the trial was pushed back, according to HLNtv.com. “A judge is giving attorneys in the case…. more time to develop their arguments about the constitutionality of her charges.”
Her attorneys are expected to argue in the vein that the charges Rousso is facing are too vague, and thus violate due process, according to HLNtv. The defense motion states that “neither the defendant nor any other person of ordinary intelligence can ever know with any certainty whether difuoroethane or any other substances not named in the Act, are prohibited from use.” Rousso’s opposition is expected to argue that Rousso inhaled the substance with the intent of altering her state of mind, and so is therefore culpable for DUI.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an “estimated 10.3 million people aged 12 or older (or 3.9 percent of adolescents and adults) reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed.” This was a higher rate than in 2011, but considerably lower than it was in 2002. Depending on the outcome of Rousso’s case, more unscheduled drugs could be listed as substances banned for consumption and subsequent operation of a motor vehicle.
If you or someone you know has been charged with DUI, don’t go through it alone. Contact Ramsell & Associates Attorneys at Law, LLC today.