Chicago, IL- Typically, DUIs involve drivers that have been drinking but an interesting case out of Illinois is shining the spotlight on “huffing” and the possible consequences of driving under the influence of chemical intoxicants. The case involves a 19 year-old woman who caused a fatal traffic accident on Labor Day in 2012 in which a 5 year-old girl was killed.
Carly Rousso is facing four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of intoxicating compounds and two counts of reckless homicide, Headline News reported.
According to court documents, Jaclyn Santos Sacramento was walking with her mother and her younger brother in the Highland Park area of Chicago when they were stuck by a driver. Jaclyn was killed and her mother and sibling suffered serious bodily harm.
The driver, Carly Rousso, was apprehended and subsequent blood test showed that she had the chemical difluoroethane—commonly used in cans of compressed air used to clean computer keyboards— in her blood stream at the time of the accident. Police suspected that she inhaled the intoxicating substance just prior to driving her car.
Russou pleaded not guilty to the charges and last week her attorney filed a motion to have her DUI charges dismissed based in the fact that difluoroethane is not listed as an “intoxicating” compound under the state’s Use of Intoxicating Compounds Act.
“The State does not and cannot contend that difluoroethane is listed as a prohibited substance under the Act. Hence, unless the State can somehow pigeonhole difluoroethane into some other part of the Act, the charges against the defendant must be dismissed,” the motion states, according to HLN.
Some people mistakenly think that if they have been “huffing” chemicals that aren’t classified as intoxicants they can’t be charged with intoxicated driving, but that isn’t necessarily true. While some states, New York and Wisconsin, have thrown out similar charges based on the fact that the chemical was not listed on their schedule of intoxicants, relevant statutes in other states have broader language which prohibits driving under the influence of any chemical intoxicants regardless of whether they are specified or not.
Illinois statute specifically says that “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.”
Because of the prevalence and dangers of intoxicated driving, regardless of the substance, Illinois courts treat offenders harshly and it is very possible that prosecutors will refuse to dismiss Russou’s case based on her motion, but that has not been decided yet.
So even if an individual become intoxicated by a chemical not listed in Illinois’ Use of Intoxicated Compounds Act, they can still be subjected to a DUI charge and faces severe penalties including jail time, suspension of their driver’s license and a required drug treatment program at their expense.
Despite how people may feel about Rossou’s actions, she has the right to present a defense on her behalf; it is one of the cornerstones of the American justice system.Every suspected DUI offender should have a DUI attorney advocating for their rights; someone who will help them make the right decisions about their plea and defense strategy.