Marijuana and DUI’s in Illinois

cannabis-buds-in-hand-300x287In recent years, laws regarding the Possession and Use of Marijuana have been changing throughout the country. This is true in the State of Illinois. In 1931, The Illinois Legislature made the recreational use of marijuana illegal. This legislation was part of a national trend which made the use of marijuana illegal nationally. In recent years, a new national trend has swept throughout the country which is having the opposite effect on the use of Marijuana. This trend clearly appears to be more accepting of the medical and recreational use of Marijuana. This national trend has swept into Illinois as well. In 2016, the Illinois Legislature decriminalized the possession of small amounts of Marijuana in Illinois. If you are caught with 10 grams or less of Marijuana, you will no longer be placed under arrest and subject to criminal prosecution and criminal penalties. In 2016 the State of Illinois made the possession of 10 grams or less of Marijuana a Municipal Ordinance Violation which only carries a civil penalty. The City of Chicago decriminalized the possession of small amounts of Marijuana in 2012.

In 2013, the Illinois Legislature enacted the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. This Act legalized the use of Marijuana for medical purposes under certain tight regulations. When the Medical Marijuana Act was enacted in 2013, it was considered one of the most restrictive and prohibitive Medical Marijuana programs in the United States. Recently, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law numerous changes to the Medical Marijuana program which have loosened many of the restrictions and made it possible for more people to be able to use Medical Marijuana legally in the State of Illinois.

The recent changes to the Medical Marijuana program in Illinois allows doctors to prescribe Medical Marijuana in place of opioids, for a short period of time, for patients in need of relief from pain. This change to the Medical Marijuana program is an attempt to stop the opioid epidemic from spreading. Another change to the Medical Marijuana program in Illinois removes the requirement that an applicant has to submit to a background search which required that a sample of their fingerprints be submitted with the application. This will have the effect of speeding up the process for being approved to use Medical Marijuana in Illinois. Prior to the recent changes to the Medical Marijuana program, it could take three to four months for an application to be approved. This will also make it possible for patients with a criminal record to be able to legally obtain and use Medical Marijuana. With the recent changes, once your application is accepted and payment is received, you can legally purchase Medical Marijuana at a state approved Medical Marijuana Dispensary by simply showing them your receipt from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the agency that is charged with administering the Medical Marijuana program in Illinois.

The decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of Marijuana, and the enactment of the Illinois Medical Marijuana program, have changed DUI laws in the state as well. It is still illegal to be operating a motor vehicle on the public roadway while under the influence of Marijuana. It’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle Under the Influence of Marijuana even if you are a Medical Marijuana patient. Prior to the legislation decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of Marijuana, it was illegal to operate a motor vehicle on the public roadway with any trace of Marijuana in your system. This means that if you had used marijuana two or three weeks ago and were operating a motor vehicle on the public roadway with even a trace of Marijuana in your system, you could be charged with and convicted of a DUI in Illinois. Along with decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of Marijuana, the Illinois legislature changed the DUI laws in Illinois to provide that you could be charged with driving Under the Influence of Marijuana only if you had five or more nanograms of THC (the active ingredient of marijuana) in your blood, or 10 or more nanograms of THC in your saliva.

Medical studies have shown that blood and saliva do not absorb THC very well. Once you ingest marijuana, the THC will enter the bloodstream and the saliva but the THC levels will ball drop off rather quickly. THC likes to go to the fatty parts of the body. The brain is mostly composed of fat. That’s what causes a person who ingests marijuana to feel “high”.

Law enforcement personnel are struggling to come up with ways to test suspected drivers for the use of Marijuana. Last year, Carol Stream Police became the first local police agency to try out a new chemical test that is designed to quickly measure the levels of numerous illegal drugs, including Marijuana, in a person’s body. The new test being used in Carol Stream will use a mouth swab to quickly screen for the presence and levels of approximately half a dozen illegal drugs. Police are looking for a test that is as simple, reliable, and accurate as a breathalyzer test. Ultimately, the courts will decide whether the tests will be accurate enough to be admissible in court to help police and prosecutors convict people charged with a DUI.

James Dimeas is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, DUI and Possession of Marijuana lawyer. James Dimeas has been representing people charged with DUI and Possession of Marijuana for over 25 years throughout Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County. Recently, the American Society of Legal Advocates named James Dimeas a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer In the State of Illinois For the Year 2018.” James Dimeas has been recognized a “Best DUI Attorney” and a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago” by Expertise. The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys named James Dimeas a “10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction.” The National Trial Lawyers named James Dimeas a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer.” The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys awarded James Dimeas the “Top 10 Attorney Award for the State of Illinois.” AVVO rates James Dimeas as “Superb”, the highest rating possible for any DUI or Possession of Marijuana attorney in the United States.

If you are being charged with a DUI or a Marijuana Criminal or Municipal Ordinance Violation charge, you can contact James Dimeas anytime for a free and confidential consultation. You can talk to James Dimeas by calling him at 847-807-7405.

Additional Resources

Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, 410 ILCS 130/.

New Illinois Law Defines “stoned driving,” by Maya Dukmasova, The Chicago Reader, August 2, 2016.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Illinois Secretary of State.

Carol Stream Police To Be First in State To Try New Test For Drug-Using Drivers, by Robert McCoppin, The Chicago Tribune, December 13, 2017.

Additional Blogs

Medical Marijuana Patients Beware:  You May Have a Bullseye on Your Car, by James G. Dimes, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, December 2, 2017.

Illinois Expands it’s Medical Marijuana Program, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, August 29, 2018.

Illinois Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, December 11, 2018.