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Illinois Supreme Court ruling allows upgraded charges in drugged driving cases

Our Chicago motor vehicle accident lawyers recognize that drugged driving is at least as dangerous as drunken driving and is not a risk worth taking on the road when operating heavy and dangerous machinery. A recent ruling issued by the Supreme Court of Illinois supports this contention and has given prosecutors a new weapon in driving-under-the-influence (DUI) cases. Now, prosecutors in the State of Illinois have the ability to upgrade charges against Illinois defendants when small traces of drugs are found in motorists’ systems after a crash, even if there is no evidence that they were impaired at the time. The Illinois Supreme Court Justices stated in their ruling that drivers even with the slightest remnant of an illegal drug in their bodies should be found guilty of a felony if their bad driving caused a Chicago car crash.

Some attorneys are questioning the standard of proof and what is proved in these new charges that the Illinois Supreme Court nodded to. Proof of actual impairment is not required, which could mean that prosecutors no longer have to show the drug contributed to a crash, only that it was present in the defendant’s system. The specific Supreme Court ruling upheld a felony conviction against a defendant pickup truck driver who had a trace of illegal substance methamphetamine in his system when he was involved in a deadly car crash, which killed two people. Citing this recent April Illinois Supreme Court decision, the DuPage County prosecutor upgraded a misdemeanor charge in May to felony aggravated DUI involving drugs in a case in which the driver defendant admitted to taking “one or two” hits of marijuana the night before he allegedly plowed into a motorcycle in Addison, Illinois, resulting in a wrongful death. Rather than facing 12 months in jail, the allegedly drugged driver could face three to fourteen years in prison.

To read more about the Illinois drugged driving ruling, visit the Chicago Tribune.