A charge of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is always a serious offense, regardless of the circumstances surrounding your arrest. If you were pulled over in Illinois under suspicion of DUI and were found to have illegal drugs in your vehicle at the time of your traffic stop, however, the stakes become even higher. Like any other drug crime, possession of an illegal substance can carry serious penalties, including hefty fines and years of imprisonment.
The team of Illinois criminal defense attorneys at Dolci & Weiland are dedicated to providing the quality legal representation that persons accused of driving under the influence need to thoroughly defend against their charge.
Driving Under the Influence in Illinois
In the state of Illinois, driving under the influence is prohibited by Illinois statute 625 ILCS 5/11-501. The statute states that a person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle within the state while:
- the alcohol concentration in the person's blood, or other bodily substance, or breath is 0.08 or more;
- under the influence of alcohol;
- under the influence of any intoxicating compound to a degree that renders the person incapable of driving safely;
- under the influence of drugs to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving; or
- has a THC concentration of over 5 nanograms in their blood.
Possession of Drugs While Driving Under the Influence
If you are in possession of illegal drugs at the time of your arrest, driving under the influence isn't the only criminal charge that you can face. If your vehicle is searched and you are found to have illegal drugs in your vehicle, you may also be subject to an additional crime of possession of a controlled substance.
Depending on the amount of drugs that you are found to be carrying, you could also face a more serious charge of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, or even trafficking of a controlled substance. This is a charge separate and apart from a DUI charge, and if you are found guilty of drug possession, the penalties that you can face are much more severe.
Penalty Enhancements for Possession of Drugs at Time of DUI in Illinois
The penalties that you may face upon conviction of driving under the influence while possessing illegal drugs depends on the type and amount of the drug that was found in your possession.
Although the use of recreational marijuana is still illegal in the state of Illinois, possession of small amounts of marijuana has been generally decriminalized. If you are found to be driving under the influence while in possession of under 10 grams of marijuana at the time of your traffic stop, you will still be charged with the criminal offense of DUI, but will only receive a civil offense and a fine for the possession of marijuana. Penalties for possession of larger amounts of marijuana at the time of your DUI arrest can lead to jail time, however, along with a misdemeanor or felony conviction depending upon the amount of marijuana possessed at the time of your traffic stop.
Possession of other controlled substances such as heroin, cocaine, LSD, or morphine carries a much more severe penalty upon conviction:
- 15 to 99 grams: imprisonment from 4 to 15 years;
- 100 to 399 grams: imprisonment from 6 to 30 years;
- 400 to 899 grams: imprisonment from 8 to 40 years;
- 900 grams or more: imprisonment from 10 to 50 years.
Illinois DUI Searches and the Fourth Amendment
Once you are suspected of driving under the influence, a police officer may search your vehicle for evidence of any illegal substances such as an open container, controlled substance, or any other illegal drugs.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution states that "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated . . . ." Put more simply, the Fourth Amendment protects all individuals in the country from searches of a person or his or her property without a valid reason to suspect that you were doing something illegal--a law enforcement officer cannot simply stop you and perform a search in hopes of finding illegal contraband.
Vehicle Searches and the Fourth Amendment
The Supreme Court's first application of the Fourth Amendment to vehicles occurred in 1925. It was then that the Court held in Carroll v. United States that an officer maintains the legal authority to search a vehicle "if the officer, in stopping and searching the vehicle, has reasonable or probable cause for believing that contraband liquor is being illegally transported in it."
With regard to DUI cases, the Fourth Amendment's application means that in order to search your vehicle following a traffic stop, a police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time that you were pulled over. If you were not doing anything at the time of your traffic stop to indicate that you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a police officer cannot search your vehicle to try to find evidence of such contraband.
Potential Defenses to a DUI/Possession Charge in Illinois
Additional defenses may exist which can mitigate the penalties that you can face if convicted of drug possession while driving under the influence. These defenses include:
- Not knowing that the drugs were in the vehicle at the time of your arrest;
- Having a prescription for the controlled substance; and
- Entrapment by a law enforcement officer.
Found with Drugs in Your Vehicle at the Time of Your DUI Charge? You Can Count on Us
If you have recently been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and were found to be in possession of drugs at the time of your arrest, it's critical to seek out the help of a seasoned DUI defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of fighting against a DUI charge in Illinois. No matter the circumstances surrounding your arrest, you should never try to fight your DUI charge alone--and with Dolci & Weiland's team of DUI defense attorneys, you never have to.
Take the weight of defending against your charge off of your shoulders and let a team of competent attorneys handle your representation for you. To speak with a member of our legal team about your charge today, fill out an online case evaluation form or contact the office that is most convenient for you today--for our DuPage office, call (630) 261-9098, or for our downtown Chicago location, contact (312) 238-9007.