Illinois has joined other states in decriminalizing certain amounts of marijuana and allowing it for medicinal purposes, but limitations on driving remain. It is still illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of controlled substances, regardless of whether you have a prescription or medical marijuana card. The restriction is common sense. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports show that your physical and cognitive capabilities are affected when you get high, so you present a risk of harm to others on the road. If you were arrested for drugged driving in Illinois, here are a few things you need to know.
How the Human Body Metabolizes Marijuana
As with alcohol, the metabolization process may vary based upon many different factors. For instance:
- Your weight and gender may affect the level of THC in your system;
- The potency of the marijuana can affect blood test results;
- Red blood cells do not absorb THC efficiently, which means there could be a spike right after smoking;
- Your THC levels will drop relatively quickly within two hours after consuming marijuana; and,
- Most tests used in the field by law enforcement do not accurately reflect THC levels.
In other words, there are many variables involved with assessing whether you were driving while under the influence of marijuana. In Illinois, law enforcement is only concerned with five or more nanograms of THC in your blood. If the test is saliva, you face arrest for 10 or more nanograms.
The Effects of Marijuana and Reaction Time
A major factor in any type of car accident is the failure of a driver to react appropriately in the event of an accident. Marijuana slows mental reaction time because you are in a relaxed state and cannot process urgency. Physically, pot can also reduce your ability to apply the brakes, turn the steering wheel, or engage in other evasive action. Being involved when you are in an accident that causes death or great bodily harm while under the influence means MANDATORY prison time in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Drivers with a Medical Marijuana Card
Even if you obtained a valid prescription from an authorized physician, got your medical marijuana card, and procured pot from a legal source, drunk driving laws apply. You can still be arrested for driving while under the influence of a controlled substance. The situation is comparable to taking prescription drugs like valium. A doctor may prescribe it and it may be legal to take with that prescription, but if you take so much you can’t safely operate a motor vehicle, the police can arrest you and you can go to jail for a DUI.
Contact a DUI Defense Attorney About Your Options
If you were arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana or any other controlled substance, solid legal representation is essential. A knowledgeable lawyer can assist with your defense and pursue all available options under Illinois law. At Glasgow & Olsson, our attorneys represent clients throughout Cook, DuPage, McHenry, and Lake Counties with DUI and drugged driving charges. We are happy to discuss your case, so please call our firm at 847-577-8700 to schedule a consultation. You can also visit us online to learn more about our services.
(image courtesy of Amritanshu Sikdar)