The incident that spurred the call for change occurred back in December 2011 when Scott Shirey was driving his two 10-year-old twins to swimming practice. Along the way their car was t-boned by a distracted driver who ran a red light. One of Shirey’s kids died in the crash, and the other was severely injured.
Despite adhering to traffic laws, Shirey faced the possibility of 14 years in prison because a blood test found he had marijuana in his system. His attorney said Shirey admitted to smoking marijuana, but that was a month prior to the crash. His attorney argued that he clearly wasn’t under the influence at the time of the accident.
“Nothing can possibly illustrate this idiotic law more than the Scott Shirey case,” defense attorney Patrick O’Byrne said. “It’s incomprehensible how bad the law is. It’s a worst-case scenario, charged with the homicide of your own son for smoking pot that had nothing to do with the accident.”
Knowing that there was little they could do to challenge the law as it was written, Shirey decided his only option was to plead guilty. He was sentenced to 30 months of probation, while the driver who caused the crash received two months of periodic imprisonment and nine months of home confinement.
“We had no choice. We had no defense,” O’Byrne said. “Thank God the judge gave him probation instead of prison.”
Acting on what they believe is a travesty of justice, the Illinois State Bar Association submitted a bill to change the current law. They said the DUI statute shouldn’t apply to drivers who aren’t under the influence at the time of an accident or at fault for causing the accident.
Related source: Daily Herald