In addition to alcohol-related DUI charges, a person can also face drug-related DUI charges in Illinois. Although alcohol and drug DUI cases are prosecuted under the same statute (625 ILCS 11-501), drug-related DUI cases are harder to prosecute than alcohol-related DUI cases because drug-impaired driving can be more difficult to discern and prove. Much like alcohol-impaired DUI cases, in drug-impaired DUI cases the State is required to prove that
(1) an individual had actual possession and control of a vehicle; and
(2) the individual was under the influence at the time he had possession and control of the vehicle.
The statute identifies six alternatives to meeting the above elements, four of those alternatives involve drugs. Depending on the charges, the State may also need to show bad driving. In these situations, the State must show that the drug or substance used had an intoxicating effect on the individual’s ability to drive safely or rendered the individual unable to drive safely. Drug impairment is hard to identify and prove because it does not universally affect people the same way. The degree of impairment depends numerous factors including the dose administered, an individual’s metabolism, frequency of drug use and the presence of other drugs. If an officer stops a vehicle and “suspects” that the driver is under the influence of drugs, it would be difficult to ascertain any level of impairment because the officer will not know, among other things, when the suspected drug was administered, the driver’s metabolism, how often the driver uses the suspected drug or if the driver has more than one type of drug in his or her system at the time of stop. As a result, in addition to field-sobriety testing, toxicology reports are commonly used but, in some situations, toxicology reports alone do not conclusively establish that a person was driving under the influence of drugs. In addition to toxicology reports, the State is often required to hire an expert witness to review and give an opinion about the results of that report. Again, the toxicologist cannot solely rely on the report to determine whether a person was driving under the influence of drugs. Additionally, the Illinois DUI statute specifically states that the fact that an individual is legally entitled to use drugs or intoxicating compounds is not a defense. Drug-related DUI cases are extremely complex, and the measurement of impairment is often times difficult to prove, which makes these types of cases defensible. Keep in mind, however, if drugs are present in the vehicle or on your person at the time of the stop, then you could potentially face drug charges as well.
TRUE OR FALSE - A person authorized to use cannabis can operate a motor vehicle while using cannabis or impaired by the use of cannabis? FALSE
TRUE OR FALSE - A person stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs is required to consent to a drug recognition expert’s (DRE) field testing? FALSE
TRUE OR FALSE - Toxicology reports conclusively establish that a person was driving under the influence of drugs? FALSE
The penalties for a drug-related DUI conviction vary based on the circumstances of the arrest, and whether there are any prior DUI convictions. The penalties almost mirror those for an alcohol-related DUI conviction. The following is a general overview of the potential consequences of a drug-related DUI conviction.
First Conviction: Class A misdemeanor (less than one year in county jail), minimum revocation of driving privileges for one year (unless the driver is under the age of 21), suspension of vehicle registration, plus fines, fees and costs.
Second Conviction: Class A misdemeanor (less than one year in county jail), mandatory minimum imprisonment of five days or 240 hours of community service, revocation of driving privileges for a minimum of five years for a second conviction within 20 years, suspension of vehicle registration, fines fees, and costs.
Third Conviction (Aggravated DUI): Class 2 felony (3 to 7 years in the state penitentiary), revocation of driving privileges for a minimum of 10 years, suspension of vehicle registration, fines fees and costs.
Fourth Conviction (Aggravated DUI): Class 2 felony (3 to 7 years in the state penitentiary), revocation of driving privileges for life, suspension of vehicle registration, fines, fees and costs.
Fifth Conviction (Aggravated DUI): Class 1 felony (4 to 25 years in the state penitentiary), revocation of driving privileges for life, suspension of vehicle registration, fines, fees and costs.
Sixth or Subsequent Conviction (Aggravated DUI): Class X felony (6 to 30 years in the state penitentiary), revocation of driving privileges for life, suspension of vehicle registration, fines, fess, and costs
Additional penalties may apply depending on the circumstances of the case. Further, there are administrative penalties (i.e., statutory summary suspension periods) that will likely occur separate and apart from the drug-related DUI conviction, and in most cases even if no conviction results. Drug-related DUI cases are defendable cases if your attorney understands the intricacies of the type of evidence required to prove these cases. It is important to work with a criminal defense attorney who understands the complexities involved with prosecuting these types of cases, and who can devise an aggressive defense strategy to help fight your drug-related DUI charges