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The use of drugged driving evidence in Illinois courts

The driving ability of DuPage County drivers can be compromised by a number of factors, including fatigue, emotions, distractions, health problems and illegal substances. Impairment is often associated with drunk driving, but the ability to drive also can be influenced by the use of drugs, alone or in combination with alcohol.

A breath analysis is typically the first chemical test administered by police when DUI is suspected. Breath testing devices measure blood alcohol content but provide no clues to a driver's drug use. Although police officers are trained to recognize signs of drugged driving, urine or blood tests are needed to identify and confirm the presence of drugs.

Impairment is caused by anything that interferes with a driver's ability to operate a vehicle safely. Alcohol and drug use can slow a driver's response time, affect visual perception and coordination, dull attention and diminish tracking capability. Substance use also blurs a driver's judgment, increasing the likelihood of reckless behavior.

A lack of drug-detecting devices during traffic stops may be one reason why states have widely varying laws to deal with drug-impaired drivers. Driver observations by police can differ from one officer to the next. Drug tests can provide consistent and convincing evidence to prosecute criminals and secure damage awards in civil cases against negligent drivers.

In Illinois, positive chemical tests for illegal substances are the only proof needed to convict a driver of a drugged-driving offense. A court needs no other evidence the driver was impaired. This eliminates reliance on a police officer's testimony, which otherwise might be considered subjective.

Evidence used against a drugged driver may support a Marquardt & Belmonte accident victim's claim for damages. Plaintiffs are required to show evidence of defendant negligence, recklessness or intentional behavior. It is not necessary for a driver to be accused or convicted of a crime to be named in a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

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Marquardt & Belmonte, P.C.

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