Defense Attorneys Argue that DUI Charges in Computer Cleaner Huffing Case are Unconstitutional
It may come as no surprise that Illinois DUI laws prohibit the consumption of intoxicating substances other than just alcohol when operating a motor vehicle. In fact, Illinois law specifically prohibits the use of many different substances that can cause intoxication. The extent of DUI laws when it comes to intoxicating substances is being tested in an Illinois case involving the homicide of a 5-year-old girl by a driver who was allegedly high on computer cleaner when she was run over. That case was debated this week in Lake County Circuit Court.
According to HLNTV.com, the constitutionality of the DUI charges brought against 19-year-old Carly Rousso have been debated since the beginning of her case. Her attorneys first argued that the charges against her are unconstitutional in late September, after Ms. Rousso was charged with two counts of aggravated driving under the influence of intoxicating compounds and two counts of reckless homicide. The accident that led to the slew of charges against Ms. Rousso occurred on September 3, 2013. On that day, a mother and her three children were walking on a sidewalk in Highland Park, when Ms. Rousso allegedly ran them down with her vehicle. The mother and one of her sons were severely injured, and her five-year-old daughter was killed.
The basis that Ms. Rousso’s defense attorneys give in their advocacy for dropping the charges against her is that the law regarding intoxicating substances noticeably does not include the substance that she is accused of inhaling. They argue that difluoroethane, which is used in computer cleaner, is not one of the intoxicating substances enumerated under the Illinois Use of Intoxicating Compounds Act, and therefore it is not an intoxicant under Illinois law. Pursuant to their first motion to dismiss, Ms. Rousso’s trial was moved from late September to the first of November.
The Chicago Tribune reports that as Ms. Rousso’s trial heats up, this week her attorneys were still debating about the constitutionality of the charges against her. Ms. Rousso’s defense attorney argued in court on Tuesday that the statute is unconstitutionally vague because it does not specifically state that the computer cleaner chemical is considered an intoxicant. He further argued that the state was attempting to use a “catch-all” statute to prosecute Ms. Rousso, that no ordinary person would be able to understand. On the other side, prosecutors contend that there would be no feasible way to list every potential intoxicating substance, and that the statute is meant to be interpreted in light of the DUI context.
Ultimately, the judge presiding over Ms. Rousso’s case did not rule on the issue this week, but allowed both sides time to submit written materials in support of their positions. In the meantime, Ms. Rousso settled a civil case with the family of the victim and is out of jail on a $50,000 bond. If convicted of the four charges against her, she may face up to 26 years in prison.
DUI law contains complex issues and each individual case is different. If you have been charged with violating Illinois DUI laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced DUI attorney. Contact an attorney at Goldman & Associates today for a confidential consultation.