Marijuana and DUI

By Steve Haney posted in In the News on Saturday, August 6, 2011

A recent Illinois Supreme Court opinion released on 4/21/11 in the People of the State of Illinois vs. Aaron Martin has raised the stakes significantly for all who use marijuana, or other drug, on an even casual, infrequent basis.

Aaron Martin was involved in a car accident that caused the death of two people.  He was required to provide a urine sample, which showed trace amounts of methamphetamine.  There was no evidence whatsover that Martin was under the influence of the controlled substance at the time of the car accident.  In other words, it was an unfortunate car accident resulting in the tragic loss of life, but not because of the use of drugs or alcohol.  It was a case of pure negligence.

However, the Illinois DUI statute makes it illegal to be in control of a motor vehicle while any amount of illegal drug is in your system.  It is the drugs presence within the body that completes the crime of DUI, not being under the particular drugs influence at the time.  Therefore, anyone who drives with an illegal drug in their system commits a DUI.  Impairment is not relevant. A misdemeanor driving under the influence charge is eligible to be upgraded to a felony under a handful of circumstances.  A DUI that results in causing great bodily harm or death to another is one of those circumstances.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Aaron Martin was properly found guilty of Aggravated DUI because his negligence was a proximate cause of the accident that resulted in death, and because he had an illegal drug in his system at the time.  In particular, the Supreme Court ruled that impairment does not need to be a proximate cause of the accident or injuries.

Thus, the tilte of this post “marijuana and DUI“.  Ingest marijuana and it can stay within your system for approximately 30 days.  Get involved in an accident resulting in anothers injury that is, at least, partly your fault within those 30 days and you may be defending a felony DUI charge — even if you were completely sober at the time.