When a person is arrested for driving under the influence in Illinois, the arresting officer will ask him to submit to a chemical test. The most common form of test is a breathalyzer at the police station. If the machine shows a breath alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, then that person is over the legal limit and will suffer a suspension of his driver’s license. The suspension is called a statutory summary suspension.
But in cases where the driver is suspected of being under the influence of drugs, the summary suspension presents different issues.
First, alcohol is legal. It is not a crime to operate a motor vehicle with less than 0.08 blood alcohol concentration (as long as the person is capable of driving with ordinary care). In DUIs based on alcohol, the statutory summary suspension is based on having too much alcohol (0.08 or more), or refusing the breathalyzer all together.
On the other hand, drugs are illegal.
In DUIs based on drugs, the legality of the drug determines whether the Secretary of State can suspend the person’s driving privileges pursuant to a statutory summary suspension.
There are two conditions that must be satisfied for a drug to be legal:
- It is a controlled substance with an accepted medical use as recognized by the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, 720 ILCS 570/1 et seq; and
- It has been legally prescribed by a person authorized to dispense the drug.
If the above conditions are met, then the drug is legal.
And so, the Secretary of State cannot suspend a person’s license for testing positive for these drugs:
- Oxycodone (also known as OxyContin)
- Morphine (MS Contin)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
Recreational drugs that have no medical value according to Illinois law are always illegal.
Possession, delivery, or consumption of any of the following drugs is a criminal offense:
- Cannabis (marijuana)
- Barbituric acid
- Methamphetamine (meth)
See 720 ILCS 570/402 (possession of a controlled substance), 720 ILCS 550/4 (possession of cannabis), and 720 ILCS 647/35 (sale of methamphetamine precursors).
A chemical test that detects any amount of these recreational drugs in a person’s blood, breath or urine will result in a statutory summary suspension.
A controlled substance that was legally prescribed, however, will not cause a summary suspension. The only restriction, however, is that the drug cannot be taken in a way that violates the Illinois Use of Intoxicating Compounds Act.
The Use of Intoxicating Compounds Act provides the following:
No person shall ingest, breathe, inhale or drink any compound, liquid, or chemical containing toluol, hexane, trichloroethylene, acetone, toluene, ethyl acetate, methyl ethyl ketone, trichloroethane, isopropanol, methyl isobutyl ketone, methyl cellosolve acetate, cyclohexanone, the alkaloids atropine, hyoscyamine, or scopolamine, or any other substance for the purpose of inducing a condition of intoxication, stupefaction, depression, giddiness, paralysis or irrational behavior, or in any manner changing, distorting or disturbing the auditory, visual or mental processes.
See 720 ILCS 690/1.
A person arrested for DUI should always check the Notice of Summary Suspension to determine whether it was issued improperly.