The Illinois Senate passed a law that legalizes the recreational use of marijuana after January 1, 2020. The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act authorizes the "use of cannabis" for "persons 21 years of age or older and should be taxed like alcohol." Now anyone over the age of 21 and a citizen of Illinois can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis legally. Non-residents may only legally possess up to 15 grams. Residents may lawfully possess one ounce of a marijuana flower at home. However, the legalization of Marijuana does not mean that driving while high will not get you arrested and prosecuted in the Illinois Courts.
The Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police took an active part in negotiating the bill, but that does not mean that the police will turn a blind eye to mariujuana use across the board. While recreational and medicinal marijuana use will be legal in the state of Illinois, it will not be legal everywhere, all of the time. For example, while the use of cannabis in the privacy of your own home will be perfectly legal under the new law, you would be advised not to take it out into public spaces, or to work or school. The Illinois Police Department will be particularly vigilant in pursuing those who drive while under the influence of cannabis (DUIC).
What Constitutes a DUIC?
Even in the other states that have had legal marijuana use for years, there is not a widely accepted way to test for marijuana impairment of drivers. No widely accepted breath analyzer exists.
There are a few key differences between driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of marijuana. We have over 100 years of research into driving impairment and alcohol consumption. The scientific community generally agrees that in regards to driving while under the influence, nearly everyone is under the influence of alcohol when their blood alcohol content is at or above .08%.
While Illinois sets the standard for being under the influence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, at 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood or 10 nanograms of any other bodily substance, there is no consensus on how driving under the influence of marijuana should be measured absent those medical tests. There is no breathalyzer or field test to accurately determine the level of marijuana impairment of a driver.
Protect Yourself From DUIC
Innocent people will be arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis (DUIC) in Illinois after the new law goes into effect in 2020. In fact, the likelihood of innocent arrests is more significant than with traditional DUI-alcohol arrests because cannabis is different significantly from alcohol. The idea of DUI Cannabis is a relatively new concept. Until technology catches up with the law and law enforcement can accurately test drivers in the field for THC levels, the best way to avoid a DUIC is to stay off the roads after partaking in marijuana in any form.
If you have been arrested and charged for DUI Cannabis, you need a skilled Glasgow & Olsson criminal defense attorney to represent you in this new area of criminal law. Contact a Schaumburg driving while under the influence of cannabis defense attorney to learn more.
(image courtesy of Ivan Chen)