Cannabis DUI Laws in Illinois
While DUIs are mostly associated with alcohol use, you can be charged with DUI for driving under the influence of any other mind-altering substance. Prior to 2020, operating a vehicle with any minute amount of cannabis in your system could lead to DUI charges. Cannabis was illegal at the time. However, it has now been legal in Illinois to possess and use small amounts of marijuana. This has affected the way DUI charges related to cannabis are handled. If you have been charged with a cannabis DUI, it is important to speak to a qualified attorney as soon as possible - ideally before your first court appearance.
What Was the Problem With the Original Cannabis DUI Law?
A person’s level of alcohol intoxication can be easily measured through breath or blood tests. As the intoxicating effects wear off, a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) drops. It is established that if a person’s BAC is 0.08% or higher, they are actively intoxicated and should not be driving. The mere presence of alcohol in trace amounts would not lead to a DUI charge. Otherwise, sober people could be arrested the day after drinking.
Cannabis was treated very differently. Having any small amount of THC - just enough to trigger a positive on a drug test - in your body while driving could be treated as a DUI. The problem is that THC can remain in your system in detectable levels for weeks after your last use. This rule led to quite a few cannabis users getting charged with DUI sometimes weeks after any impairment had worn off. Effectively, any routine user of cannabis was committing a DUI every time they drove.
How Does the New Law Correct this Problem?
A new test meant to measure a person’s level of active THC impairment was developed. Now, driving with less than five (5) nanograms of THC in your bloodstream or less than ten (10) nanograms in any other bodily fluid will not be considered driving under the influence. The idea is that people with these low levels of THC in their body are most likely not currently under the influence.
How do Police Identify Potentially THC-Impaired Drivers?
The number one sign that can prompt police to test for cannabis impairment is the telltale smell. If your vehicle smells like marijuana, you are much more likely to be held on suspicion of DUI and tested. Police also look for signs like red, half-closed eyes, slow speech, delayed reaction time, and confusion.
Call a Cook County Cannabis DUI Lawyer
If you have been charged with a cannabis DUI, Moretti Law, P.C. has the skills needed to defend you well. THC testing is fallible, like BAC testing. Our experienced Chicago marijuana DUI attorneys employ many of the same strategies we use in alcohol DUI cases. Call 312-861-1084 for a free consultation.