Using recreational marijuana is much more accepted in modern society, with marijuana laws reflecting this. In 2019, Illinois changed the laws on marijuana by legalizing recreational marijuana use in January 2020. Citizens of Illinois can legally possess and purchase marijuana from state-licensed retailers and will no longer face drug possession charges for personal amounts of marijuana.
However, even though the state legalized the recreational use of marijuana, there are still strict penalties for driving under the influence of the substance. If you are facing charges for driving under the influence of marijuana, contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. The penalties for marijuana DUI charges can be severe, and you could end up with a permanent criminal record if convicted.
The DUI attorneys at Hirsch Law Group are ready to help you fight against your marijuana-related DUI case. We have seen people getting lengthy sentences for driving with just a small amount of marijuana in their system. The law in Illinois is tough on those driving under the influence of drugs, and you will need a strong defense strategy to prevent a conviction.
Our lawyers have worked as prosecutors, so we have a unique insight into how the justice system works. We will use this knowledge to help you avoid a DUI conviction.
Call our law firm today to schedule a free consultation at 815-880-1134.
Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence is strictly prohibited under Illinois law. The law equates driving under the influence of marijuana to driving under the influence of alcohol. However, there are different legal limits. For alcohol, the legal amount in a person’s body is 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
For marijuana, the legal limit for Illinois drivers is 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood or 10 nanograms of THC per milliliter of another bodily substance or urine. If a law enforcement officer conducts chemical testing and determines that you are over the legal limit, you will be charged with a marijuana DUI.
If you are high while driving, it is likely that you are over the legal limit and should not be operating a motor vehicle. However, if you are not high or do not feel intoxicated, you may still face marijuana DUI charges. The main issue with marijuana testing is that there is no definitive way to determine whether an individual is under the influence.
Because of this, it is best to avoid driving for at least a few hours after consuming cannabis to avoid facing a criminal charge. If you are a frequent user, you can purchase some at-home test kits that you can do before operating your vehicle. The more often you smoke, the likelier you will have THC in your system for longer periods.
Marijuana DUIs fall under the same legislation as alcohol DUIs. The penalties you receive for a marijuana-related DUI depend on several factors, including any previous DUI convictions, the level of THC in your system, whether there were aggravating factors, and whether you refused to test.
It is important to note that previous DUI offenses do not have to be marijuana-related. It is possible to get an increased sentence for a marijuana-related DUI if you were previously convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol.
For a first offender of cannabis DUI, the charges will be class A misdemeanor. The penalties for a class A misdemeanor include up to one year in jail, a maximum fine of $2,500, and a loss of driving privileges for at least 6 months.
For a second DUI conviction within five years of the first offense, you will receive a minimum of 5 days in jail or 240 hours of community service, plus the penalties for a first DUI offense.
If you are convicted of a marijuana-related DUI for a third time within five years, the charges will be increased to a class 2 felony. The penalties for a third DUI include a minimum jail sentence of 90 days, from 3 to 7 years in prison, and fines of up to $25,000.
The penalties increase substantially if you are a repeat offender. Depending on the number of DUIs you are convicted of, you could face up to 30 years in prison, summary suspension of your license for many years, revocation, and huge fines.
On top of the criminal consequences of a cannabis DUI and driver’s license suspension, those convicted face further consequences that can last for a long time. If you are convicted of a DUI, it remains on your criminal record forever. There are very limited circumstances in which a person in Illinois can get a DUI expunged.
A criminal record has a major impact on your life and will create significant barriers when applying for jobs, education, etc. Some consequences that stem from a criminal record include:
Difficulty applying for jobs and potential job loss
Difficulty applying for a loan or mortgage with banks
Difficulty applying for education
Removal of access to public housing
Increased insurance rates because of a DUI charge
Difficulty with child custody
Law enforcement officers and prosecutors do not care how a criminal record will negatively impact your life. Their top priority is getting your case through the legal system as quickly as possible and securing a conviction against you. They must seem tough on cannabis DUIs, so they will do anything to convict you. The only way to protect yourself against the criminal justice system is by hiring an experienced attorney.
A police officer can pull over drivers in Illinois if the officer reasonably suspects the individual is driving under the influence. Some things that can amount to reasonable doubt for a police officer include swerving on the road, failing to stop at a checkpoint, marijuana or drug paraphernalia, or the smell of marijuana in your car.
A law enforcement officer may then search your car and ask you to conduct field sobriety tests or chemical tests to assess whether you are under the influence. A breathalyzer test is ineffective for marijuana, as the chemicals only appear in a blood test or an ‘other bodily substance’ test. If you fail chemical testing, the officer has probable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence.
Because of Illinois’ implied consent law, all drivers must submit a chemical test if requested by law enforcement. If you refuse to give a test, you can face automatic license suspension for at least one year. Refusing to test for THC metabolites will not make the DUI go away. Instead, it can be used against you by a prosecutor as proof of guilt.
Unlike alcohol, marijuana remains in your system for several hours after intoxication and may even stay in your blood for several days. Because of this, Illinois drivers worry they could receive cannabis DUIs a few days after they consume cannabis.
Unfortunately, the law does not prevent people from being charged with a marijuana DUI even if they are not high at the time of the arrest. Technically, you could be charged and convicted of a cannabis DUI a few days after smoking. Police officers must still have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pull you over and conduct a test.
However, if you were tested at a random checkpoint or because you broke another traffic violation, such as running a red light, and you were over the legal limit, you could face criminal DUI charges.
There is an exception under the law for individuals who qualify for medical use of marijuana under the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act. Unless you are too impaired to drive, as decided by the officer on duty, you can drive while under the influence of marijuana with a valid medical card. Speak with an attorney if you were charged with a DUI as a medical cannabis patient.
Although Illinois marijuana DUI laws have been updated to legalize recreational use, the laws on driving under the influence of marijuana remain strict. If you are facing marijuana-related DUI charges, you risk facing severe penalties. These penalties could include jail time, huge fines, community service, and losing your driver’s license.
Because driving high off of marijuana is a criminal charge, you could end up with a permanent criminal record for a conviction. With a criminal record, you cannot apply to some universities, will face difficulties applying for jobs, risk losing public housing, and much more. The only way to prevent the serious consequences of a marijuana-related DUI is to seek legal help from an experienced attorney.
If you are facing marijuana DUI charges in Illinois, contact a qualified criminal defense attorney today. An experienced attorney can provide legal advice and guidance to fight your marijuana DUI charge and protect your rights. Don’t let an arrest for a cannabis-related crime ruin your future. Contact a defense lawyer now to learn your options for avoiding a conviction.
At Hirsch Law Group, we have been helping clients fight against criminal charges for over 20 years. Our law firm takes an aggressive approach toward criminal cases, and we have the experience and skills necessary to get a favorable outcome in your case. We understand that being charged with a DUI is scary, and we want to do everything we can to protect your future.
Our law firm comprises former prosecutors that now work as aggressive defense attorneys. Our managing attorney, Gordon H. Hirsch, has won multiple awards for criminal defense methods, including Enterprise.com Best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Chicago, 2022. One of our other attorneys, James Brzezinski, specializes in DUI cases and can offer you the highest standard of legal representation.
If you are facing a marijuana-related DUI in Illinois, contact us today for help. We will do everything we can to protect your rights and ensure you get the best possible outcome in your case. Contact Hirsch Law Group at 815-880-1134 to learn how our attorneys can help you fight your marijuana DUI charge.