An Aurora woman who was reaching for her sunglasses when she set off a chain reaction accident that killed a St. Charles motorcycling couple pleaded guilty today to aggravated DUI.
Alia Bernard, 27, admitted to having marijuana in her system on May 29, 2009, when she rear-ended a stopped car on Illinois Route 47 in Kane County between Sugar Grove and Elburn.
The car Bernard struck then hit another car that was waiting to make a left turn as a line of motorcyclists came by in the oncoming lane. The force of the collision pushed the lead car into the path of motorcyclists Wade and Denise Thomas of St. Charles, who struck the car and were killed, authorities said.
Bernard attorney Bruce Brandwein said although tests showed his client had marijuana in her system, she had not used the drug in the three or four days before the accident and was not impaired.
“It was sunny and the sun was bouncing off the chrome of the motorcycles and she went to get her sunglasses and when she looked up, there was a car stopped in the road,” he said.
Kane prosecutors had originally charged Bernard with the lesser felony of reckless homicide, but recharged her following an April Illinois Supreme Court decision. The high court reaffirmed that any amount of an illegal substance in a driver’s system is enough to support an aggravated driving under the influence charge.
First Assistant State’s Atty. Jody Gleason said Bernard could receive anywhere from six to 28 years in prison, or probation.
Brandwein said Bernard has no criminal record. Judge Allen Anderson set Feb. 8 for sentencing.