Highland Park, Il- An Illinois judge found a 19-year old Highland Park teen guilty in connection with death of a five year-old girl after she admitted to huffing computer cleaner prior to driving.
On the night of Sept. 3, 2012, Russo crossed several lanes of traffic in Highland Park and struck and struck Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento, 5, who was walking to a local pharmacy with her mother and two of her brothers. Jaclyn was killed instantly and her mother and her brothers suffered serious bodily injuries.
The prosecution presented video surveillance tapes which showed Russo’s Lexus striking the family. Her car can then be seen lurching back and forth between buildings hitting family members multiple times. Witnesses testified that Russo was unconscious behind the wheel and unaware of the people trying to rouse her, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Russo’s sentencing is scheduled for July 2 and she faces up to 14 years in jail.
Russo, now 19, admitted to police almost immediately after her arrest that she inhaled the intoxicant difluoroethane, a chemical commonly used in computer cleaner. A subsequent blood test revealed the presence of the intoxicant in her system.
Shortly after her arrest, Russo pleaded not guilty and her DUI attorney attempted to have her charges reduced to reckless driving since it carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in jail with a higher probability of parole. The defense insisted that since difluoroethane is not listed as an “intoxicating” compound under the state’s Use of Intoxicating Compounds Act, the aggravated DUI charge did not apply in Russo’s case.
But the judge and prosecution disagreed, noting that the Use of Intoxicating Compounds Act contains provisions which cover a broad swath of substances that can cause intoxication not specifically named in the law.
Many people don’t realize that even though a state’s laws don’t specifically name a substance, they can be charged with driving under the influence if that substance impairs their ability to drive. The same case goes for legally prescribed drugs or over the counter drugs. While different substances affect driving abilities, the law is clear; driving under the influence of any substance is illegal.
The key to a solid DUI defense is proving that a driver was not impaired when they were charged or caused an intoxicated driving accident. Some drugs can show up in a person’s system even without causing impairment. Marijuana serves as a good example of a drug that can be in a person’s system without causing intoxication.
When a person is charged with a simple DUI or DUI charges related to a deadly or injurious accident, they need to hire a DUI attorney immediately. A solid defense strategy will allow a person to avoid conviction or give them the leverage they need to have their charges reduced. DUI offenders shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking they can beat a DUI without expert legal counsel since many freedoms hang in the balance.