Attorneys for Highland Park huffing teen challenge DUI law

carlyroussoAccording to the Chicago Tribune, Douglas Zeit, the attorney for Carly Rousso, has challenged the constitutionality of the statutes under which she has been charged, which make it illegal to drive under the influence of an intoxicating compound.  Rousso was alleged to have been under the influence of difluoroethane, by “huffing” the fumes of a cleaning product prior to driving up on the sidewalk, striking and killing Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento.

From the Tribune:

Defense lawyer Douglas Zeit is questioning whether difluoroethane is intoxicating, which he said affects the constitutionality of the charges against Rousso. She is charged with reckless homicide and four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound.

Prosecutor Michael Ori said Zeit must notify the state attorney general about a challenge to the constitutionality of a state law. Ori explained that the judge can either deny the motion or dismiss the charge. If the judge dismisses the charge, there would be an immediate appeal to the Supreme Court.  If the judge were to find it constitutional, the defendant can also appeal, said Ori.

A status date is scheduled Sept. 27, with the trial scheduled Nov. 1.

In order to make his case, Zeit will need to present expert testimony to the court to show that difluorethane is not intoxicating.  A quick search of the internet indicates that this may be hard to prove.  I will be curious to see which expert he uses, and what he or she says.

From Medicine.net:

Reports in 2005 about teens dying after inhaling the chemical difluoroethane from a popular computer-cleaning spray known as Dust-Off called widespread attention to the practice of inhalant abuse. Then, as now, the product Dust-Off itself was not the source of the problem; it is only one example of hundreds of common household products with the potential to be abused by inhalant abusers.

Inhalant abuse (commonly called “huffing”) is the intentional inhalation of chemical vapors to attain a mental “high” or euphoric effect. A wide variety of substances, including many common household products, are abused by inhalers (see list below). The 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) revealed that the primary population of inhalant abusers (68%) is under 18 years of age. Although inhalant abuse is declining from its peak in the 1990s, it is still a significant problem. In 2011, 7% of eighth graders reported inhalant use, along with 4.5% of 10th graders and 3.2% of 12th graders.

Inhalants produce an effect that may be similar to alcohol intoxication. Initial symptoms described by abusers who were “huffing” include drowsiness [and] lightheadedness…

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