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Zero Tolerance for Driving While Under the Influence of Drugs

Prior to 2011, the State needed to show evidence that using an illegal drug impaired driving before escalating a driving under the influence (DUI) charge to a felony. Now, the State only needs to show that the defendant’s driving caused an accident and that the driver used an illegal drug — even if the drug had no impact on the driver’s abilities.

Illinois does not permit a trace

Illinois law provides that a person may not drive any vehicle in Illinois while there is even a trace of a drug in the person’s body system from the unlawful use, including consumption of cannabis. With alcohol, there is a limit of .08% in the blood in order to violate the law, however, with drugs; even the smallest amount in a driver’s system is illegal.

Illinois’ zero tolerance statute was reinforced in the 2011 Illinois Supreme Court decision of People vs. Martin, which upheld the lower court’s felony conviction of aggravated DUI against a pickup truck driver who had a trace of methamphetamine in his body — resulting in a car crash killing two people. The evidence showed that the last time the defendant used methamphetamine was days before the accident. The court ruled that the State does not have to prove that drugs impaired the defendant’s driving ability. They only need to show that there were small traces of drugs in the driver’s system at the time of the accident or moving violation.

Penalties for DUI of drugs

Generally, a first-time DUI for drugs is a Class A Misdemeanor carrying the following among other possible consequences and penalties.

  • Drug testing
  • Maximum of 364 days in jail
  • Maximum fine of $2,500
  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Suspension or revocation of driving privileges

If the DUI of drugs caused a crash involving great bodily harm, the driver may be charged with Aggravated DUI, a Class 4 Felony. Even when the drug did not impair the defendant’s driving ability, the penalties may include:

  • Loss of driving privileges for at least one year
  • Compulsory minimum term of imprisonment or community service hours
  • Up to twelve years imprisonment
  • $25,000 maximum fine

If you need an Illinois DUI attorney, contact us today.

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Paul Chatzky
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About Born in Havana, Cuba, Paul Chatzky is fluent in Spanish and English, enabling him to effectively represent a wider range of individuals and businesses. He is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, and is listed among Illinois Super Lawyers, which is a reflection of his high ethical standards and exceptional legal knowledge. As…

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Deborah E. Chatzky
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About Prior to joining the firm as a paralegal, Debbie was employed by major banking institutions as a loan processor and as an executive secretary. Debbie was also employed as an administrative assistant for the Board of Jewish Education. Having majored in Sociology, Debbie graduated from the University of Florida in 1980. Debbie completed her…

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