SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Supreme Court on April 20 rejected the appeal of a woman who maintained that it was low blood pressure and not illegal drugs that caused her to lose consciousness at the wheel of her car and seriously injure two other people in a crash.
In its opinion, the high court sided with a St. Clair County Circuit Court which would not allow Ida Way to introduce evidence from introducing evidence that a medical condition possibly caused loss of consciousness. The Supreme Court reversed the Fifth District Appellate Court
According to background information in the opinion, on Jan. 28, 2012, Way was driving in Shiloh when her vehicle crossed a center line and struck head-on a truck driven by Emily Wood. The accident resulted in great bodily harm to Wood, who was eight weeks pregnant at the time, and also to 14-year-old Christopher Rodgers, Way’s son and a passenger in her vehicle.
Way consented to blood and urine sample testing on the day of the accident and was found to have tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) metabolite in her system, which results from marijuana use.
Facing a DUI charge, Way claimed the accident had been caused by the medical condition of low blood pressure, and not the illegal drug in her system.
Way’s attorney, had the court given permission to pursue the medical condition defense, would have called the woman’s doctor to testify on her behalf. It was acknowledged the doctor could only say that low blood pressure was a “possible” cause of the accident and not a certainty. The defendant would also have called as witnesses two acquaintances who had visited with her earlier in the day before the accident.
However, the court rejected the presenting of such testimony.
The high court found that a defendant may not claim medical impairment caused the accident after an illegal drug had been detected in his or her system, and in which people were seriously injured as a result. The state asserted that, under law, it only had to show there was an illegal drug in the defendant’s system at the time of the accident and that her driving was the cause of the accident in order to establish guilt.
Way was found guilty on three counts of DUI. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison plus one year of mandatory supervised release.