DUI law in Illinois deemed "vague" by lawmakers

State laws dealing with driving while intoxicated cases are being called into question as they pertain to a recent case involving the tragic death of a 5-year-old girl. The DUI laws in Illinois are very clear on the subject of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, but they are somewhat less clear on the subject of substances that are not technically deemed intoxicants. Because of the unclear nature of this law, the recent case may set a precedent for future cases.

The case involves a 19-year-old woman who was found to be huffing difluoroethane, a chemical commonly used to remove dust from computer keyboards, the day she lost control of her vehicle and ran up on a sidewalk, killing a 5-year-old girl. She was charged with four counts of aggravated DUI, as well as several lesser charges related to reckless driving, but her representation has argued the most serious charges should be dropped. The argument stems from the fact that, under Illinois law, inhalants of this type are not considered intoxicants.

If the charges are dropped, the defendant will face considerably less jail time. An aggravated DUI charge carries a 4-15 year sentence with no possibility of parole. This has called into question the constitutional efficacy of the existing DUI laws as they pertain to this particular case. Should the law be found to be too vague to apply here, the woman's sentence could be considerably mitigated.

It is always important to understand the laws that are being used in a trial case. Illinois DUI laws may wind up being revised as a result of this case, but in the meantime it can be argued that charging this woman under the existing laws would be contrary to the letter of the law itself. A full understanding of legal processes of this kind can be helpful in preparing a defense in similar cases.

Source: Joliet Il. Patch, Illinois DUI Law Called into Question for Vagueness, Dennis Robaugh, Sept. 23, 2013

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