Woman Arrested After Killing Homeless Man While Drugged Driving

 Posted on April 19,2014 in DUI

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.

The Illinois zero-tolerance, per-se law went into effect in 1997, according to a publication of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Cannabis is considered a substance controlled by this ruling. According to the NHTSA, the "law calls for up to 12 months imprisonment (non-mandatory) and a 3-month license suspension (no mandatory) for a first offense."

If you or someone you know has been arrested for drugged driving in Illinois, the most important first step is to seek legal counsel. Do not go through it alone. Contact Scott F. Anderson for a free initial consultation today.

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