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Rolling Meadows DUI attorney, Rolling Meadows DUI lawyer, drugged driving, drugged driving lawyer, DUI, DUI laws, legal drugs, legal rights, marijuana, per-se laws, Scott F. Anderson, war on drugsDespite a decades-long "war" on drugs in the U.S., drugs continue to be an issue that plague our streets and our highways. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), more than 15 percent of nighttime, weekend drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or OTV medications. More than 10 percent tested positive for illegal drugs. Of fatally injured drivers in 2009, nearly 20 percent tested positive for at least one type of drug at the time of death. The number of people who died as a result of a drugged driver is even more sobering: nearly 4,000 drivers who were killed in 2009 were on drugs.

The issue of drugged driving continues to lag statistically behind driving under the influence of alcohol, but this could change as more states move toward relaxed legal policies regarding drug use and legalize marijuana. A number of states, including Illinois, have introduced per-se laws in an attempt to quantify and punish drugged drivers. Reported by StopDruggedDriving.org, the Obama Administration has pinpointed per-se laws as a major initiative. StopDruggedDriving.com reports that, "per-se means that any detectable amount of a controlled substance, other than a medicine prescribed by a physician for that driver in a driver’s body fluids, constitutes per se evidence of a ‘drugged driving’ violation."

Per-se laws, of course, are problematic. Many drugs, including marijuana, which is now legal for recreational use in two states, tend to stay in a person’s system long after the effects of the drug have worn off. This ostensibly means that a person could legally buy and smoke marijuana in Colorado, drive back to Illinois three days later, and be arrested for drugged driving while on the way to work.

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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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