Is a Medical Condition or Act of God a Valid DUI Defense?
If you have been charged aggravated driving under the influence (DUI) because you caused an accident in which other people were seriously were seriously injured, you may feel there are extenuating circumstances that should be considered in your case. Whenever there are unusual circumstances in a legal case, it may be worth taking the case to trial so that all the facts can be laid out for a judge or jury to consider. Even if you are still found guilty, mitigating circumstances can be considered in sentencing.
However, your attorney will also carefully investigate the law and any case precedents to determine your chances of winning.
A Recent Example
A recent Illinois case provides a useful illustration of these principles. This defendant was charged with aggravated DUI because she caused a collision with injuries, and she tested positive for marijuana. In her defense, the woman argued that she was not impaired by marijuana at the time, although she admitted to illegal marijuana use in the past. Instead, she argued, her medical condition of low blood pressure had caused her to lose consciousness, leading to the collision.
The driver’s argument was bolstered by witness testimony. Her passenger testified that the driver appeared to “fall asleep” and lost control of the car. He grabbed the wheel but could not respond fast enough to avoid the collision. The driver also had three witnesses who saw her shortly before the accident and would testify that she was not impaired. The prosecution presented no evidence of impairment other than the drug test. Based on all of these facts, the defendant argued that while she had caused the accident, she was not driving impaired at the time and thus should not be found guilty of DUI.
The court, however, ruled that she was legally impaired based on the fact that she tested over the legal limit for marijuana. The fact that her driving may not have been actually drug-impaired was irrelevant. The state is not required to prove actual physical or mental impairment in this case, only that the driver met the criteria for per se DUI by being over the legal limit for marijuana.
Mitigating Circumstances Can Influence the Outcome of a DUI Case
If the driver in this case had tested positive for some type of intoxicant but was below the legal limit, her arguments might have swayed the court’s decision. If she made a good case that she was not impaired by intoxicants but rather was affected by an “act of God” related to her medical condition, she might have been found not guilty of DUI. Alternatively, if the driver in this case had only been charged with reckless driving rather than DUI, she could well have been found not guilty on the reckless driving charge if the jury was convinced by the medical evidence.
In its written opinion on this case, the Illinois Supreme Court declared that this defendant had the right to present an affirmative defense involving an “act of God” such as a sudden unforeseeable medical condition that rendered the driver incapable of controlling her vehicle. However, it was simply not a winning defense in this particular case of per se DUI.
Call an Aggressive Will County DUI Lawyer to Defend You
If you have been charged with a DUI case, a skilled Joliet DUI defense lawyer may be able to make a convincing argument to have the case against you reduced or dropped. Contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free consultation.