This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here and here about DUI’s involving drugs. One of the biggest problems with a DUI when it involves drugs is that drugs tend to stay in the body an awful lot longer, via blood, hair, or urine testing, than alcohol. So how far back does the state require your drug usage in order to find you guilty of Driving Under the Influence of drugs?
That’s the question that the Illinois Supreme Court answered in People v Martin, No. 109102, 2011 WL 1499909 (Ill Sup Ct).
On December 25, 2004, at 10 p.m., the defendant left a bar in Peoria. As he was driving home on a two-lane state highway, his car crossed the center line at a curve and struck an oncoming car. The driver and the passenger of that car were killed in the accident. The defendant was injured, and he was taken to a nearby hospital where he was given a narcotic painkiller, but not methamphetamine. At the hospital he received two traffic citations, one for improper lane usage and one for driving on the wrong side of the road. After he was placed under arrest by a Peoria County sheriff’s deputy, he consented to requests for two blood and urine samples. Subsequent tests revealed that the defendant’s blood contained no alcohol or controlled substances, but his urine contained methamphetamine and amphetamine. The defendant was then indicted on one count of aggravated DUI.
Cathy Anderson, a forensic scientist for the Illinois State Police, testified that she tested the defendant’s blood samples for alcohol and drugs. She found none. She also tested the defendant’s urine samples for drugs. A preliminary screening test indicated that a small amount-of “some sort of drug of the amphetamine class” could be present in the samples. Anderson then performed a gas chromatography mass spectrometry test, looking for a wide range of drugs. She found nothing significant. She then performed a more specific spectrometry test, looking for drugs in the amphetamine class. That test revealed the
presence of methamphetamine, though it did not indicate how much. According to Anderson, controlled substances enter the bloodstream first and are eventually eliminated through the urinary tract. She was not surprised to find methamphetamine in the urine samples, but not the blood samples. She also testified that none of the other substances in the defendant’s urine would have triggered a false indication for methamphetamine.
That’s right, the drug has cleared his bloodstream but it was still in his urinary tract and the Illinois Supreme Court deemed that was enough to be found guilty of an aggravated DUI. It is no longer necessary for the government to prove impaired driving (the “Under the Influence” language of the statute) the mere existence of any illicit drug is enough to convict.
Don’t think this same standard won’t be applied in the future to prescription drugs as well.