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Fighting a Marijuana-Related DUI Charge With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois, law enforcement officials throughout the state have increased concern over drugged driving. According to a study conducted by the American Automobile Association, approximately 14 million Americans admitted to driving while under the influence of marijuana in the past month. The concern from law enforcement is based on the fact that marijuana use can decrease reaction time and doubles the likelihood of a collision. Recognizing this concern, Illinois established a DUI Cannabis Task Force to take a deeper dive into drugged driving throughout the state. Still, the testing for marijuana use is somewhat controversial as it pertains to DUI charges. If you have been charged with driving under the influence, it is time to speak with an attorney. 

The Arrest Process and Chemical Testing 

In order for a DUI traffic stop to be warranted, a police officer must witness the driver violate Illinois traffic laws in some form or fashion. When the police officer begins speaking with the driver, they will immediately look for signs of inebriation. Signs of inebriation related to marijuana use include bloodshot eyes, drowsiness, and delayed reaction time. If the officer smells marijuana or believes that the driver is under the influence of marijuana, the officer will likely ask the driver to take part in field sobriety testing. If through testing the officer concludes that the driver is likely impaired, they will arrest the driver and bring them to the local police station. 

Once at the police station, the driver will be asked to submit to chemical testing. The most common forms of chemical testing in marijuana cases include blood, breath, and urine tests. While the refusal to take part in chemical testing is an administrative offense that will result in an automatic one-year license revocation period, the refusal does not constitute a criminal offense. A person will fail chemical testing if the test comes back positive for more than 5 milligrams of THC per milliliter of blood. 

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Can I Still Face Legal Trouble for Possession or Ingestion of Marijuana? Since the start of the new year, recreational marijuana use has been legal in the state of Illinois. When Governor JB Pritzker signed House Bill 1438, also known as the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana use and changed the landscape of marijuana distribution statewide. The law took effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and also made thousands of prior marijuana convictions eligible for expungement. All that being said, there are still a number of marijuana-related violations that can result in serious drug charges and legal ramifications. 

Possession and Use 

While it is now legal for people in the state of Illinois to possess marijuana, you must comply with the state guidelines. Adults over the age of 21 are legally allowed to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana, edible products totaling no more than 500 milligrams of THC, and up to five grams of cannabis concentrate products. If you are a non-resident visiting Illinois, those possession limits are cut in half. Possessing more than 30 grams of marijuana can result in a Class A misdemeanor charge and up to one year in prison. It is also important to note that only licensed dispensaries are allowed to distribute marijuana. The illegal sale of marijuana can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges. One can also face fines for using marijuana in public areas, motor vehicles, or in the presence of minors. 

Marijuana and Motor Vehicle Operation 

With recreational marijuana use now legal in the state, law enforcement officials are now increasingly on the lookout for drugged driving. If you are tested with a THC blood concentration upwards of five nanograms per milliliter of blood, you will face a charge for driving under the influence of marijuana. Law enforcement officials have the right to request chemical testing if they have probable cause to believe you may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Signs of marijuana use can include drug paraphernalia, smell, and visible symptoms such as eye discoloration. A first-time DUI offender can face Class A misdemeanor charges and significant fines. 

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