Illinois driving under the influence law unclear on inhalant use

A tragic accident is leading legal professionals to question the constitutionality of a set of laws in Illinois. The laws in question concern driving under the influence (DUI). DUI laws in the state are fairly clear when it comes to the use of drugs and alcohol, but the impact on those who are impaired by inhalants is currently being questioned.

If the law is vague, the statute may not be constitutional. The Constitution requires criminal laws be drafted with enough clarity that the average person can understand what is and is not allowed, particularly when it comes to criminal laws that regulate individual behavior. If a law is not clear, the law could be deemed unconstitutionally vague. This is referred to as the void for vagueness doctrine.

Details of the case

The case in question began when a 19 year-old woman struck and killed a 5 year-old child after huffing difluoroethane. The substance is commonly found in products used on electronics to remove dust. Inhalation of the substance interferes with oxygen absorption in the blood, resulting in side effects similar to alcohol intoxication. According to medical professionals, symptoms can include drowsiness, lightheadedness, hallucinations and impaired judgment.


The driver was impaired due to her use of inhalants and lost control of her vehicle. The vehicle drove onto the sidewalk where it struck and killed the child as she walked with her family.

The driver is arguing that her use of inhalants does not qualify within the aggravated driving under the influence charges. If she is able to argue that the law is unclear, the DUI charges may be dropped.

Pedestrian accidents in Illinois

This case is just one example of a tragic pedestrian accident in Illinois. Unfortunately, this type of accident is an issue in Illinois, particularly in the Chicago area. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning notes that the majority of pedestrian crashes in Illinois occur in Chicago.


As a result, The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Bureau of Design and Environment suggested the city take active steps to help reduce the risk of pedestrian accidents. Suggestions included installing sidewalks, reducing highway crossings and, in some areas, reducing speed limits.

Remedies available for victims of pedestrian accidents in Illinois

Generally, those injured in a pedestrian accident are eligible to receive compensation to cover the cost of past and future medical treatments and rehabilitation as well as past and future wage loss. In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded.


Establishing a case can be difficult. Often, the driver will blame the pedestrian for the accident in an attempt to reduce his or her liability. As a result, those injured in a pedestrian accident should contact an experienced Chicago pedestrian accident lawyer to better ensure a more favorable outcome.