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New Marijuana Law Will Have Little Impact on DUI Procedure With the national perception of recreational marijuana changing gradually throughout the United States, perhaps few were surprised when the Illinois General Assembly passed a marijuana bill last May, essentially legalizing marijuana for recreational users age 21 and older. With Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signing the bill into law, the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act will go into effect starting Jan. 1. While the new law is expected to bring in significant tax revenue and result in potential pardons for those previously charged with marijuana possession, it should have little effect on the way in which law enforcement officials view driving under the influence of marijuana. 

Driving After Marijuana Use

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act will drastically alter the landscape of recreational marijuana use statewide. Users will now be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana legally, and nearly 300 recreational marijuana stores could be established throughout the state by 2022. All that said, the law will not drastically change the way in which driving under the influence of marijuana is treated in Illinois. 

With a law already in place to stop people from driving after marijuana use, police will be on the lookout for impaired drivers. Drivers with THC blood concentration of five nanograms or more per milliliter will be found guilty of driving under the influence and face a Class A misdemeanor charge. The new law will likely lead to more roadside surveillance with Illinois State Police developing a task force to find the most accurate ways to roadside test for marijuana use. At this moment, the standard roadside procedures include:

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Understanding and Reacting to a Drugged Driving Charge Thousands of people in Illinois are charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol each year. Earlier this year, the Illinois General Assembly passed a bill that will legalize recreational marijuana in the state. In other words, consumers will be legally able to purchase recreational marijuana as of January 2020. With the passing of the new bill, there will be a specific DUI task force established to decide how roadside testing will take place in order to test drivers for levels of THC. Below, we will examine what steps you need to take in the aftermath of a drugged driving charge.

Examine the Arrest Process

After your arrest, the first and most important step you can take is hiring a skilled and experienced attorney. Your attorney will help you establish a defense strategy while examining the arrest process for possible missteps taken by the law enforcement officials involved. According to Illinois state law, a driver can be charged with a DUI if they are tested with a THC blood concentration of five nanograms or more per milliliter. That being said, if an officer forced you to take part in testing without telling you about your right to refuse, the evidence gained from the test may be thrown out in court. While you will temporarily lose your driving privileges for refusing to test for drugs or alcohol, refusal is not a criminal offense. An officer must read you your Miranda rights if you are taken into police custody and questioned. Failure to notify you of your rights can result in dropped charges. Your ability to work with your attorney throughout the arrest process examination can make or break your defense case.

Understanding the Consequences

In Illinois, DUI charges come with the same legal consequences regardless of the substance used. If you fail a THC chemical test you will lose your license for a period of six months. That being said, your attorney can assist you in regaining your driving privileges by obtaining a monitoring device driving permit (MDDP). A second offense can lead to a mandatory one-year license suspension. Loss of driving privileges can drastically impact a person’s ability to maintain employment and live a high quality of life. If you are facing DUI charges, it is incredibly important to contact an attorney as soon as possible.

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Illinois defense lawyerAlcoholic beverage drinkers can easily determine when they have drunk too much to drive. They can consult a simple chart that estimates blood alcohol concentration (BAC) based on gender, weight, and how many standard drinks they’ve had. Unfortunately, such simple charts do not exist for marijuana. So how can medical cannabis users know when they are safe to drive in Illinois and not get charged with driving under the influence?

Under current Illinois law, a THC level over 5 nanograms per milliliter of whole blood is per se (sufficient by itself) proof of marijuana DUI for most drivers. Illinois medical cannabis cardholders are exempt from the THC limit, but they can still be charged with DUI based on other evidence of impairment, primarily failure on the standardized field sobriety tests (walk-and-turn, one-leg stand, and follow-the-object eye test).

This article provides a basic explanation of how the body processes THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana associated with driver impairment, to help users understand how marijuana may affect their ability to drive.

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Illinois defense lawyerThe effect of alcohol consumption on the ability to drive safely has been studied intensely for over 60 years. Scientists have developed tests of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), including breathalyzers and blood tests, that are accurate enough to be fully accepted by American courts. Scientific studies have proven that alcohol impairment begins with the first drink; that the higher a person’s BAC level is, the more impaired their driving is; and that .08 is a level at which driving is so impaired as to pose a significant danger to public safety.

But when it comes to marijuana, such conclusive research does not yet exist. Yes, the level of THC, marijuana’s main psychoactive component, in the blood can be measured. But, different from alcohol, THC can be present in the blood long after its psychoactive effect has worn off. There is currently no test that can differentiate “active” THC that would impair driving from “inactive” THC that would not. Nor is there clear and convincing research showing what level of THC results in impaired driving, or widespread agreement on what the legal limit should be.

So how can Illinois arrest, much less convict, people of driving under the influence of marijuana?

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Illinois DUI lawyerJust recently, there has been a novel way for law enforcement to determine whether or not a person has been driving after using drugs. To test for alcohol in the system, the standardized breath test is often administered. Then, if the driver who was pulled over had been drinking before going behind the wheel, he or she may be charged with a DUI, which could cause undesired consequences, such as lost driving privileges, loss of the vehicle, or even lost employment opportunities.

What Is This New Test?

Drunk driving is often very obvious to detect, with the slurred speech and the smell of alcohol on the driver. However, if the driver has been using marijuana, prescription drugs, and heroin, there are other ways that these drugs must be detected.

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