Illinois is one of many U.S. states that have eliminated or dramatically reduced criminal penalties for marijuana possession and use. Cannabis flower and cannabis products like “edibles” are now legal to possess in Illinois — regardless of the user’s medical need. However, marijuana possession, cultivation, and distribution are still limited and regulated by law. Furthermore, it remains illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. Smoking and driving or “drugged driving” can lead to charges for driving under the influence (DUI).
DUI Involving Cannabis in Illinois
Marijuana is legal for recreational use in Illinois. However, this does not mean that Illinois residents can use cannabis behind the wheel. Research shows that cannabis impairs decision-making abilities and motor coordination. It also increases reaction time which makes it harder for drivers to avoid collisions. Because marijuana intoxication increases the risk of getting into an accident, it is illegal to operate a car while under the influence of marijuana.
Determining a Driver’s Level of Intoxication
Measuring a driver’s marijuana intoxication has proven quite difficult as compared to alcohol intoxication. When a police officer suspects a driver of drunk driving, he or she can use a portable blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test to assess the driver’s estimated level of intoxication. While these tests are not infallible, they offer a standardized method for determining a driver’s level of impairment. A driver is considered intoxicated “per se” or intoxicated by law if his or her BAC is above 0.08 percent. (However, it is possible to be charged with DUI even if your BAC is under the legal limit.)
A similar per se limit exists for marijuana: Drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle with a THC blood concentration of 5 nanograms or more or ten nanograms or more in another bodily substance. However, many experts have criticized this method of determining marijuana intoxication. Studies suggest that measuring the amount of THC in the blood, urine, or saliva does not offer a consistent means of determining driving impairment.
Contact an Aurora DUI Defense Lawyer
Marijuana is legal in Illinois. However, it is still possible to be charged with DUI for driving with marijuana in your system. If you or a loved one were charged with driving under the influence (DUI) for allegedly driving high, contact the Law Office of Patricia Magaña, LLC for help. With over 15 years of experience, Naperville criminal defense attorney Patricia Magaña can help you build a powerful defense against your DUI charges. Call 630-448-2001 for a free, confidential consultation.