Written by attorney Jon Forrest Erickson

DUI: Under the Influence or Presumed Impaired?

In a recent decision, the Illinois Supreme Court distinquished between the six various ways a person can be charged and found guilty of DUI in Illinois. "Four ways require proof that a driver’s ingestion of alcohol or drugs impaired his ability to drive. Two ways do not." The two types of DUI where the law presumes the defendant is impaired and are are Sections 11-501(a)(1) and 11-501(a)(6).

11-501(a)(1) or Driving with a blood/alcohol level of .08 or more does not require that the driver was impaired in any way. The driver may be a master drinker with little or no alcohol related impact on his nervous system and the State must only prove 1) that the defendant was driving and 2) that a breathalyzer, blood or urine test showed a blood-alcohol content of .08 or greater. The prosecution does not have to prove that the driver was influenced in any way by the alcohol.

Similarly,under “Section (a)(6)" if there is any amount of an illegal drug in the person’s breath, blood, or urine resulting from the unlawful use or consumption, the law presumes impairment. The prosecution does not have to prove that the drug use impaired the driver’s abilities in any way. Again, the prosecution must only prove 1) the defendnat was driving, and 2) there was any amount of illegal drugs in the driver’s system.

As the Court stated in it’s recent ruling (People v. Martin, 955 N.E.2d 1058, 1064-1065, 353 Ill.Dec. 247, 253 – 254 (Ill.,2011) ), “Because impairment is not an element of misdemeanor DUI as set forth in section 11–501(a)(1) and section 11–501(a)(6), DUI, or driving “under the influence," may be an inaccurate title for violations of these subsections. Such violations are essentially "driving while presumed impaired."

The only way the prosecution can prove an (a)(1) or (a)(6) DUI charge is if they have results from a breathalyzer, blood or urine test. All Illinois citizens have the absolute right to refuse to take a breathalyzer, blood or urine test. If a driver refuses the breath, blood or urine test, the State does not have the evidence necessary to charge the driver under (a)(1) or (a)(6).

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, you need an experienced, aggressive Chicago DUI lawyer on your side.

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