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drugged driving, DUI, driving under the influence, Arlington Heights criminal defense lawyerCherise Wardlow, 39, was charged with "aggravated driving under the influence involving a death and a count of misdemeanor DUI," after an early April incident in Aurora, reports the Chicago Tribune. Wardlow, of Montgomery, tested positive for marijuana after hitting and killing a homeless pedestrian at about 4am on a February night. "She told police she heard a loud thump and immediately stopped and discovered she had hit the pedestrian," states the Tribune. The man, Donald L. Early, 54, was pronounced dead at the scene. A warrant was issued for Wardlow’s arrest, but the next day, reports the Tribune, she turned herself in and posted the $7,500 bond.

Driving after smoking marijuana is as common as driving while impaired from alcohol. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD), more than 11 percent of all drivers on the road during the weekend or nighttime tested positive for illegal drugs. "Even more concerning," the NCADD reports, is that a different study "found that 1 in 12 high school seniors reported driving after smoking marijuana."

While nearly 4,000 fatally injured drivers tested positive for illegal drugs in 2009, there is no blood test that can be definitively administered the way there is for alcohol. To combat this, many states—including Illinois—follow so-called per-se laws, which state that any amount of cannabis in one’s system when behind the wheel is a punishable offense, even if he or she has not smoked in days.

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Posted on in DUI

Aaron I. Moore was charged with "two counts of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in death; two counts of aggravated driving under the influence of drugs resulting in death; and two counts of leaving the scene of a fatal crash," according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Moore, 26, was driving on a Sunday morning in mid-January on the Eisenhower Expressway, when his Durango slammed into the back of Windstar van that had stalled near the First Avenue exit. Both the van’s driver and backseat passenger died on impact, according to the Sun-Times. "Moore and a 25-year-old woman who was in the SUV with him were taken to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries," reports the Sun-Times. Man Arrested for DUI After Son Ejected From Window

According to the 2013 Illinois DUI Factbook, aggravated DUI is a felony charge. This comes with mandatory revocation of driving privileges and likely prison time. Any DUI that results in death, such as the one with which Moore is charged, incurs a two-year license suspension that begins from the date that incarceration ends. It’s a conviction, according to the Factbook, that becomes a permanent part of the offender’s driving record. And that’s not the only punishment Moore is facing—the average cost of a DUI conviction in Illinois, including insurance, legal fees, court costs, income loss, rehabilitation, driver’s license reinstatement and breath ignition interlock device hardware, is about $16,580.

According to the Century Council, an organization of distillers which aims to fight drunk driving and underage drinking, "alcohol impaired driving fatalities have declined 35 percent, and among our nation’s under 21 population such fatalities have declined 58 percent" in the past two decades. In 2011, the Council reports, more than 30 percent of all driving fatalities in Illinois involved alcohol-impaired drivers and there were 279 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in the same time period.

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Chicago Ambulance Driver Charged With DUIJohn Lara, 31, of LaGrange, was driving a private ambulance when he crashed into another vehicle on the North Side of Chicago in mid-December, according to CBS News Chicago. His lights and sirens were blaring when he hit a pickup truck at the corner of Clark and Montrose, and police immediately noticed the strong smell of alcohol on him, according to CBS. They also noticed, "Lara’s eyes were glassy and his speech was slurred."

Though his lights were on and the sirens blasting, "he was the only one in the ambulance, and was headed to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center to pick up a patient," according to CBS. When police tested him, Lara’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit, they told CBS. "He has been charged with aggravated driving under the influence, disobeying a stop signal, negligent driving, failing to carry a driver’s license, and other offenses," reports CBS. Both Lara and the man in the pickup truck he slammed into suffered minor injuries, according to DNA Info.

This isn’t the first time this year that an ambulance driver has been accused of drunk driving in the U.S. Earlier this year an ambulance driver in Lubbock, Texas was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, but later released because "a judge did not find enough probable cause to charge" him, according to KCBD News. In February, a Hackettstown, New Jersey ambulance driver was caught drunk on duty, according to WRNJ Radio.com. In this instance, the driver "drove past the emergency location and later entered the complex the wrong way." He was "charged with DUI in a school zone and careless driving, among other things," according to WRNJ.

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