Understanding DUI Laws Surrounding Marijuana in Illinois

Are you a medical cannabis user, or do you consume marijuana recreationally?

Regardless, you need to familiarize yourself with marijuana DUI laws in the state of Illinois if you plan on using it at all. 

Illinois has legalized marijuana, but the laws can murky, and you may find yourself unjustly entangled in the legal system. The state is taking marijuana DUI cases seriously, as DUI marijuana deaths are on the rise. DUI marijuana charges are no laughing matter, as you could face jail time for a first-time offense. 

Moreover, you could end up with a DUI charge even if you're not currently under the influence. If you're contending with marijuana DUI charges, contact an attorney immediately.

In this article we will explore marijuana DUIs in greater detail. 

Marijuana DUI Deaths 

According to certain studies, drugs will overtake alcohol as the leading cause of motorist fatalities. This means that driving under the influence of marijuana is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.

Furthermore, marijuana is becoming the most common reason for DUI deaths. 

In Illinois, DUI deaths involving marijuana have increased since the state legalized medical cannabis in 2013. As the state issues more medical marijuana permits, authorities expect DUI deaths to rise steadily.

In the future, marijuana DUI fatalities will rival drunk driving deaths. 

Recreational Use

Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Illinois. As of January 2020, residents can buy cannabis from a licensed seller.

Adults who are 21 years old or older can buy marijuana legally. With that, you still cannot smoke in certain places, such as:

  • Any area where people are under 21
  • Public places (i.e. streets or parks)
  • Near school bus drivers or first responders (i.e. police and firefighters)
  • In your motor vehicle

When it comes to driving, you can possess marijuana in your car, but you cannot consume it while driving. 

Weed Container Laws 

For medical use, drivers cannot use marijuana from the passenger side of the car. However, drivers can possess the medical marijuana as long as it's in a sealed medical container. For recreational use, drivers must keep the cannabis in a container that's:

  • Sealed
  • Odor-proof
  • Child-resistant

 Additionally, the container must not be accessible as you drive the car. 

Marijuana DUI Test

Even though many states have legalized the use of recreational and medical cannabis, driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal. Marijuana DUIs fall under implied consent laws.

If a police officer pulls you over, you must submit to a breathalyzer test or urine sample. If you decline the test in Illinois, the state will suspend your license automatically. 

Police officers can test you for the following reasons:

  • Marijuana odor emanating from your vehicle
  • Slower motor skills
  • Slow driving
  • Unusual driving
  • Slurred words
  • Glassy/bloodshot eyes 

Even if you're aren't high, you can still get a DUI charge because THC metabolites linger in your blood for several days. In fact, you can still face charges days after you used marijuana. This is because the test can read the metabolites long after you have used it. 

That said, you won't face charges if you haven't surpassed the legal limit. Drivers with over five nanograms of THC for each millimeter of blood are over the legal limit. To be on the safe side, don't get behind the wheel if you suspect that you won't pass a test. 

Punishments for Marijuana DUIs

Let's say you failed a THC test. For a first time offense, you could lose your license for anywhere from six months to a year. Also, you could face up to a year in jail and a possible $2,500 fine. 

Another offense warrants a mandatory jail sentence, including a possible three-year suspension of your license and community service. You may also contend with additional fines, and you will need to attend substance abuse counseling.

However, each case is different, and you could face other charges. Due to the heaviness of the charges, it's best to contact an attorney. 

The Importance of a Marijuana DUI Defense Lawyer

Since THC can remain in your body for weeks or months, marijuana DUI laws can get unclear at times. The chances of facing an unwarranted DUI charge are low, but it can happen.   

This is where a DUI lawyer can help. They deal with defendants who are dealing with false charges.

Even if you're guilty of going over the limit, you're still entitled to a viable defense. Regardless of your plight, an attorney can help you invoke your rights and walk you through the legal process. 

If the case makes it to trial, lawyers can do the following for you:

  • Articulate your case to a judge or jury
  • Conduct an independent investigation
  • Negotiate with prosecutors to reduce the charges. 

Moreover, attorneys can help if your license was suspended or revoked. For instance, perhaps you refused to consent to a breathalyzer test that resulted in a suspension. Regardless of the circumstance, an attorney can streamline the process to ensure you get your license back sooner rather than later. 

Find a Lawyer Who Knows About Marijuana DUI Laws

Your attorney should specialize in marijuana DUI laws to navigate the legal system. A general practice attorney doesn't have enough expertise to deal with marijuana DUI cases effectively. 

A first-time charge can lead to a license suspension and possible jail time. Additional offenses can carry harsher penalties. Regardless of your record, an attorney can help you avoid jail time and get your license reinstated sooner. 

Want to know how long a DUI will stay on your record? Click here to learn more.