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Judge upholds charges in crash

Updated: December 1, 2011 8:06AM

ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP - A Kane County judge ruled Friday that a new law upgrading charges for drivers on any amount of drugs during a fatal accident is constitutional.

Alia Bernard, 27, of Aurora, is charged with felonies aggravated driving under the influence and reckless homicide as well as misdemeanor driving under the influence relating to a crash near Elburn that killed Wade and Denise Thomas, and injured six others on May 23, 2009.

Prosecutors allege that Bernard had marijuana in her system when she ran into stopped traffic at Route 47 and Smith Road, causing a vehicle to be pushed into a group of motorcyclists.

Prosecutors upgraded Bernard’s charges to include the aggravated driving under the influence charges when toxicology test results showed she had the drugs in her system. Last spring, the Illinois Supreme court ruled that a driver testing positive for any amount of illegal drugs can be charged with aggravated driving under the influence,

Bernard’s lawyers argued the law is unconstitutional because it violates equal protection laws and is overly broad in how it applies to marijuana, which can legally be obtained and used in some states. On Friday, judge Allen Anderson ruled the charges against Bernard are constitutional.

For Norm Turner, the ruling was just. Turner was one of six injured in the accident, and was out of work for six months. It took him two years to get back on a bike, he said.

“I don’t want her to get the electric chair,” Turner said following the ruling. “But she needs to be taught a lesson.”

Turner said fellow rider, Jerry Bozonelos, remains hospitalized.

“He’s been in there for two years, and Wade and Denise are gone forever,” he said. “Someone should be held responsible for that.”

Bernard’s next hearing is set for Jan. 11.

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