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Chicago Drugged Driving Defense Lawyer

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

In Illinois, it is unlawful to operate, or be in actual physical control, of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, whether they are illegal drugs such as Cocaine, Heroin, Methamphetamine, etc., or whether they are lawfully taken substances, with or without a doctor's prescription. Because drugs cannot presently be detected through one's breath the way alcohol can, police are empowered to obtain evidence in other ways.

In a law that took effect recently, police are now authorized to seek evidence through the withdrawal of blood, or the collection of urine or other bodily substances (saliva for now). The laws have changed somewhat with respect to Cannabis and what constitutes a violation of our DUI statute, and those changes are discussed in another article on our site. This article will address the law regarding the other drugs, illegal or legal, and how they can form the basis of a DUI.

The Law as Contained in Section 11-501

Chapter 625, Illinois Compiled Statutes, Section 5/11-501 provides the various ways in which one can commit a DUI offense. Under the law as amended, effective recently, if

there is any amount of a drug, substance, or compound in the persons breath, blood, other bodily substance, or urine resulting from the unlawful use or consumption of a controlled substance listed in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, an intoxicating compound listed in the Use of Intoxicating Compounds Act, or methamphetamine as listed in the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act

while they are operating or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle anywhere in the State of Illinois, then they are in violation. See section 11-501(a)(6).

Collection of Blood, Urine and Bodily Fluids

This means that, if even the most miniscule, trace amount of an illicit substance enumerated above is found after testing to be in your blood, urine or other bodily substances, you are likely going to be found guilty of DUI, whether or not you were actually impaired by the presence of the substance at the time of driving or actual physical control. The new law directs the Illinois State Police to set standards and regulations on how samples are to be collected for testing.

Currently, the rules in existence require that only a doctor, Licensed Registered Nurse, or Phlebotomist may draw whole blood for testing, at a proper facility. However, the rules allow for an Officer to collect urine, even at the police station, for testing. It is a virtual certainty that the rules that are enacted to accommodate "other bodily substances" will be tailored to allow Police to do the collection rather than a doctor, nurse, etc., as long as no "intrusion" into one's body is taking place, like with a blood draw.

Currently, Illinois does not criminalize the refusal of blood alcohol/drug testing, whether it be by breath, whole blood, urine, or whatever. Other States have however, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in Birchfield v. North Dakota that, as long as there is probable cause to arrest one for a DUI offense, then States can criminalize the refusal of breath or urine collection, even without a search warrant. With respect to a blood draw, there must be a search warrant issued before Police can compel compliance under penalty of law.

Having said that, in Illinois, there are consequences for refusing to submit to requested tests, via the Statutory Summary Suspension of driving privileges following a DUI arrest. If one is a first offender as defined under Section 11-501.1 of the Vehicle Code, then a refusal of testing will result in a 12 month suspension which takes effect 46 days after issuance of the Notice to the Motorist. If one is not a first offender as defined, then there will be a 3 year summary suspension, during which no driving relief may be obtained.

Of course, if one has partaken in illegal drugs within a time frame that there may be a trace amount or more in the system, one would do well to politely refuse to submit to testing of any kind, because the positive result from the Crime Lab will certainly result in a charge under (a)(6), and if admitted into evidence, guilt will be a virtual certainty. The only benefit to providing a sample in that instance would be to obtain the lesser suspension of privileges provided for by submission to testing (6 months for a first offender, 12 months for a non first offender). While a refusal of testing may also be used as evidence by the State in their prosecution of a DUI charge, such a refusal does not carry the weight and certainty that a positive test does at trial.

Refusal of Chemical Testing for Drugs in Chicago

Remember that the Police are not thwarted from arrest, nor is the State precluded from prosecuting a DUI case simply because one refused chemical testing. Section 11-501(a)(3)(4)and(5) encompass DUI offenses based upon being under the influence of any intoxicating compound or combination of intoxicating compounds, drug or combination of drugs, or the combined influence of alcohol, drugs or drugs, or intoxicating compound(s) to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving.

The key here, is that in the absence of any quantifiable amount of alcohol, drugs, or compounds in the system due to lack of testing, the State can still introduce direct and circumstantial evidence to prove the charges, such as the officer's observations of improper driving, physical observations, performance of field sobriety tests, the presence of other independent evidence of drug or compound usage, statements of the accused, and testimony of other witnesses. However, the task of proving one's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is made much more difficult in the absence of chemical testing that will bring the Per Se charges under (a)(6).

Field Sobriety Tests and Drugged Driving Detection

As for the Field Sobriety Tests mentioned above, these are tests that require a defendant's undivided attention, and are designed to assist an officer in raising the requisite probable cause to make an arrest that will then trigger the Statutory Summary provisions of the law, and DUI criminal charges. These tests are easily failed, and not easily passed, even in the best of circumstances, and are absolutely NOT required to be taken, UNLESS you have a Medical Cannabis Card, in which case you can be suspended for refusing them, or for taking them and failing.

Keep in mind, everything you say and do is likely being recorded on video, so it is important to always be polite in responding to an officer, even when you refuse to perform those tests. Also, keep in mind, that your refusal to perform tests will likely result in your arrest for DUI, and your refusal to submit to chemical tests will invite the longer Statutory Summary Suspension discussed above. Either way, your polite refusal to submit to field tests and/or chemical tests will not carry as much evidentiary weight as your failure of those tests at trial.

For some time, the Illinois State Police have been training officers on how to detect drugged drivers on the roadway, and special certifications have been issued to those that qualify to testify at a hearing as experts in such detection, so the more "clues" you give them, the greater the weight their testimony will carry. This is why it is essential to maintain a calm, polite demeanor when addressing an officer that has stopped you, minimize your direct contact by politely declining to answer any questions (you have the right to remain silent at all times, not just when being arrested), but do provide your driver's license and insurance documents immediately upon request.

Depending on the circumstances, you wish to politely refuse performance of any and all tests, but you should exit the automobile if so directed by the officer, so as not to escalate the conflict into a charge of resisting or obstructing a peace officer on top of a DUI charge. If the officer requests permission to search your automobile, you may politely refuse such consent. If you are arrested, the officer may or may not be authorized to conduct such a search without a warrant, but if you give permission, then the police have all of the lawful authority they need.

Hire a Qualified Chicago DUI Drug Defense Team

So, to sum up, if you are being arrested for a DUI case based upon drugs, illicit compounds or in combination with alcohol or other drugs or compounds, remember that any positive result in a chemical test that discloses even a trace presence of an illegal drug or compound will result in an almost certain finding of guilt for DUI; refusal of any such tests places the burden on the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your ability to safely operate an automobile was actually impaired by the use of said drugs, compounds, or combination thereof. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Chicago, you need the help of skilled attorneys to fight for your rights, as well as your driving privileges in court. Call us here at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC at (800) 996-4824 twenty-four hours a day, to discuss your case with an experienced attorney today!

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