Constitutional issues are being raised about the state's driving under the influence statute in the case against a 19-year-old woman accused of running over and killing a 5-year-old girl.
The woman was huffing difluoroethane — found in a product commonly used to remove dust from electronics — according to toxicology reports, but that substance isn't considered an intoxicant under Illinois law. Huffing difluoroethane displaces oxygen in the bloodstream and results in a narcotic-like effect, according to medical experts, and it can lead to sudden cardiac arrest and death.
The lawyer for Carly Rousso, 19, of Highland Park has asked that the most severe charges against her be dropped. She was charged with four counts of aggravated driving under the influence and two counts of reckless homicide following the death of Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento, who was walking with her family on Labor Day 2012 when the car Rousso was driving ran onto the sidewalk and hit her. Rousso has pled not guilty.
Last week, her lawyer filed a motion asking a Lake County judge to dismiss the four aggravated DUI charges — two of which are the most serious of the charges against her.
Northwestern Law Professor Joe Margulies told Patch that Rousso’s lawyer was correct in asking for the dismissal.
“You do not scoff on constitutional rights as a technicality,” Margulies said. “Constitutional rights are not a technicality and shame on the public for saying this kind of stuff.”
Rousso’s lawyer said in court last week that the law under which Rousso was charged is unconstitutional because it is vague. Based on the statements in the motion, Margulies agrees.
“If the defense is correct, the statute is unconstitutionally vague,” he said.
If the motion is successful, Rousso would face substantially less jail time. Aggravated DUI involving death carries a sentence of four to 15 years and no probation if aggravation can be proved at trial. Reckless homicide carries a penalty of three to seven years with the possibility of probation.
What do you think? Should the state's driving under the influence laws be amended to include all potential inhalants that could be used to get high?
Reporting by Emily Stone and Steve Sadin, Patch.com