As part of its DUI statute, Illinois has a provision that provides that any amount of cannabis or controlled substance in a driver’s system may be the basis for a DUI charge. This is the only part of Illinois DUI law that permits a charge of driving while under the influence – even if there is no evidence that the person was impaired or intoxicated.
The most commonly cited example of the law is the person who may have smoked marijuana days or weeks earlier and then is stopped for a minor moving violation or as a result of an accident. If the officer has any reason to believe that the person had smoked marijuana at some point, the officer may seek testing. Often the situation arises in the case of an accident where the person was injured, taken to a hospital and testing is conducted, revealing the presence of a by-product of marijuana, called a ‘metabolite’.
The most recent example of the absurdity of the law is the case of Scott Shirey. In December 2011, Mr. Shirey was driving with his two young twin sons in his car. While driving, he was broad-sided by another vehicle and one of his children was killed and his old child was severely injured.
Mr. Shirey was transported to the hospital to be treated for his injuries. As the result of blood-testing, it was determined that he had a marijuana metabolite in his system. He admitted having smoked marijuana weeks earlier. There was no evidence or suggestion that he was impaired or under the influence of marijuana or that he was even at fault for the accident that cost the life of his son.
Despite this, Mr. Shirey was charged with felony DUI involving death and endangering the life of his children. The most serious of the charges, DUI involving death, carried a potential sentence of 3-14 years in prison. Luckily, the court in Mr. Shirey’s case decided to grant him probation. Nevertheless, he has suffered the trauma of the loss of his son and he is now a convicted felon. All of this despite the fact that he was not under the influence of marijuana and was free from fault in the accident.
Illinois courts have rejected challenges to the law. As a result, The Illinois State Bar Association has supported legislation co-authored by Attorney Larry A. Davis, a principal of The Davis Law Group, P.C., to change the law to prevent injustices such as that occurred in the case of Scott Shirey.
It is our hope that this legislation will be heard in the upcoming Spring 2015 session of the Illinois legislature.
If you, a family member or friend have issues concerning a DUI case or license reinstatement issue, feel free to call the experienced attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C.