Many states across the nation – including Illinois – are taking a fresh look at cannabis and have decided to legalize it under certain parameters. While people will no longer face criminal penalties for having and using a limited amount of it, there are still laws in place that can result in criminal charges if they are violated. Like alcohol, cannabis can lead to charges for driving under the influence. Knowing the basics and the possible penalties is important not just to avoid committing a violation, but to forge a viable defense.
Key facts about automobiles and cannabis in Illinois
Although cannabis can be used recreationally for people 21 and older or for those who are using medical marijuana, there can be DUI charges for cannabis just as there are for alcohol. This is true even if the person is using it legally. If the driver is suspected of driving under the influence of cannabis, there will be various levels of THC in their blood. Going beyond a specific amount will lead to charges.
During a traffic stop, if the law enforcement officer believes the driver is committing a cannabis DUI, field sobriety tests and chemical tests can be given. Just like with alcohol, the driver must take the tests or face a charge of refusal which automatically results in a driver’s license suspension. DUI for cannabis can lead to a driver’s license suspension and losing the medical marijuana card. The license suspension for a refusal or failure to complete the test is 12 months. Being found impaired through the field sobriety tests will result in a six-month suspension.
Drivers do not need to automatically accept a cannabis DUI charge
There are ways to fight a DUI and cannabis-related suspension or revocation. The court can consider the justification for the traffic stop and investigation; if the person did refuse to submit after being informed of the pending suspension for refusal; and if the person submitted to the field sobriety test showing they were under the influence of cannabis. Since the penalties for a conviction will hinge on the number of offenses, the circumstances and other factors, it is imperative to do what is possible to fight the charges. An effective defense may help avoid suspension, fines and jail time.