We've been waiting for this moment for a while. Though we routinely monitor DUI cases throughout Illinois, we've only seen cases where "extraordinary circumstances" were not found in an aggravated DUI case. Now, in a case with questionable merit, we finally have an example to illustrate the vague standard.
As you might recall from previous installments of this blog, "extraordinary circumstances" is the standard by which a judge can grant probation to someone who is facing an aggravated DUI causing death charge. What constitutes these extra-special circumstances? The statute doesn't say, which is causing a little legal ruckus.
Nathan Palmer, 33, of East Peoria, faced the perfect legal storm. Last summer, his car crossed the center lines and collided with a motorcycle, killing the other driver, reports the Journal Star. He claims he lost consciousness. The cops found weed in his system.
As we've covered before, the drugged driving laws in this fine state are a bit draconian. Once can be convicted of drugged driving, even if the marijuana metabolites in their system are days or weeks old. Contrast that with California's law, which requires evidence of some actual impairment.
Palmer said that the weed in his system was days-old, but under the law, that was completely irrelevant. What was his true saving-grace was an undiagnosed condition that ran in the family: hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia is the tendency to get woozy if one's blood sugar drops too low. It's usually caused by diabetes, but can also be caused by drinking large amounts of alcohol, liver disease, or a pancreatic tumor. Symptoms include sweating, shaking or trembling, tiredness, and can even go as far as fainting or going into a coma.
Palmer's attorney argues that the cause of the accident was fainting due to low blood sugar. Palmer also cited this as a possibility to officers immediately after the accident.
Palmer pled guilty in early June in exchange for a promise that his sentence would not exceed 12 years. Now, he's only facing 180 days in jail, court-ordered rehabilitation, and four years of probation.
- Consult a Chicago DUI/Drugged Driving Attorney (FindLaw)
- Aggravated DUI (FindLaw)
- Drunk Driver Killed One, Injured Two, Gets Eight (FindLaw's Chicago DUI Blog)
- Judge David Hall Acquitted of DUI: How the Defense Did It (FindLaw's Chicago DUI Blog)