The answer is that you may have a diminished capacity defense if you were involuntarily intoxicated because you were not warned about the side effects of a prescription drug. Beyond that, diminished capacity and/or voluntary intoxication is not recognized as a defense in Illinois.

To prove diminished capacity, you must show: 1) that your conduct was involuntary because of the unwarned side effects of prescription medication; and 2) these side effects made you so intoxicated that you lacked substantial capacity either to appreciate that you were committing a crime or to conform your behavior to the requirements of the law. See 720 ILCS 5/6-3.

A defendant’s burden to prove diminished capacity is very high and mostly unsuccessful. For example, in People v. Taliani, the defendant argued that he had not been warned about the side effects of taking Buspar and Desyrel simultaneously. As such, he suffered from heightened irritability, confusion, altered consciousness and increased ideas of suicide, which he claimed led to killing his girlfriend and shooting her mother. The court found that while the defendant may have shown he suffered from involuntarily produced side effects, it was not apparent that those side effects deprived him of the substantial capacity to know that shooting the victims was a criminal act or to refrain from engaging in that conduct.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Do the police have probable cause to arrest you? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if the police acted lawfully and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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