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Thomas Gatz Says Drugs Made Him Drink, Avoids Jail for DUI

Thomas Gatz says the last thing he remembered the night he drove drunk and crashed into two cars, was taking two Ambien pills and going to bed.

The 44-year-old former firefighter from Shorewood says that he doesn't remember drinking and doesn't remember getting in his car, let along striking two women, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. This appeared to be a good enough defense, as a Will County judge only sentenced Gatz to two years of conditional discharge, avoiding jail time completely.

In July 2010, Gatz claims to have taken the prescription sleep aid pills and went to bed without drinking alcohol. The next thing he claims to remember is waking up in a hospital bed learning that he had crashed into two cars driven by Gail Darm and Lauren Eklund, causing serious injuries to one of the passengers in the cars, reports the Sun-Times.

To his surprise, Gatz also tested for a blood alcohol content above 0.10, over the legal limit of 0.08.

In Illinois, it is illegal to both drink and drive and drug and drive. For getting behind the wheel after taking Ambien, and for drinking and driving, Thomas Gatz faced DUI charges.

However, prosecutors appeared to have taken pity on the former firefighter, even arguing that he shouldn't be sentenced to jail, because Gatz reportedly had no intention to drive and had no recollection of drinking.

Gatz successfully argued that the drugs made him drink and drive and he avoided a lengthy jail sentence for seriously injuring a girl in a DUI accident. Along with his two-year conditional discharge, Gatz will also serve 480 hours of community service, and write letters of apology to his victims.

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