Aurora Woman Re-Sentenced to Probation After DUI Conviction
31-year-old Alia Bernard hugged her mother as she exited the Kane County courtroom, where Judge David Kliment sentenced her to hours of community service and four years of probation. The decision spared the woman at least one more year in prison. She had been sentenced by another judge in 2012 to seven years in jail but would have had parole eligibility in March of 2017.
In his decision, Judge Kliment cited the case’s “extraordinary circumstances.” While Bernard did have marijuana in her system at the time of the crash, the prosecutors in her DUI case admitted that she was not impaired. However, they still argued that state law allowed them to charge her with aggravated DUI. Judge Kliment took over the case when the original judge retired and noted at the re-sentencing that her use of the drug was simply not a factor in the death of the couple or the cause of the accident.
An Unusual Case
In May of 2009, Bernard was driving on an Illinois highway when she rear-ended the last of three cars in a line that were stopped because the first car was waiting to make a left turn. That first car had yielded as a group of motorcyclists passed, but the force of the collision from the Aurora woman’s car shoved the first car into the cyclists’ path, injuring several riders and killing Wade and Denise Thomas.
Tests did show that marijuana was in Bernard’s system, but she said she had used it two days before the crash. Illinois law, however, says that any person can be charged with aggravated DUI if any drugs at all show up in their system, even if those drugs did not impair the driver at the time or contribute to cause of the crash. In her original case, she pleaded guilty to the charge and indicated that distracting driving was the cause as she was reaching for her sunglasses moments before she rear-ended the other car.
She faced a jail sentence of 6 to 28 years, with her original attorney asking for probation. The judge at that time sentenced her to seven years in jail. However, Bernard got a new attorney last year who argued that her sentence should be reconsidered, and that’s what led to her release from prison and new sentence of probation and community service.
Aggravated DUI in Illinois
Being charged with aggravated DUI in Illinois is serious, and you can face up to 28 years in prison even if you weren’t impaired at the time of the accident. Seek the help of experienced DUI lawyers in Springfield IL if you’re facing a DUI charge as the impact of a conviction can haunt you for years to come.