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Medical Marijuana Users: How to Avoid a Possible DUI Charge

 Posted on July 10,2018 in DUI

Joliet marijuana DUI defense lawyerIllinois residents who legally use medical cannabis may be justifiably concerned about their risk of being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) after using marijuana. 

While only around 30,000 people are currently registered as medical marijuana users in Illinois, this number could expand dramatically once the governor signs a new law passed by the legislature in May 2018. This law, SB 336, would modify the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (410 ILCS 130), allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana as an alternative to opioid pain medications and eliminating the criminal background check requirement for patients.

Marijuana DUI Law for Regular Citizens

THC is the intoxicating element in marijuana, and this is what Illinois law enforcement officers will measure to determine if you are guilty of driving under the influence of marijuana. The legal limit for THC in Illinois is five nanograms or more per milliliter of whole blood or 10 nanograms or more per milliliter of any other bodily substance (e.g., saliva). If you test at or above that level, you will be subject to the statutory summary suspension of your driver’s license and a DUI charge.  

Marijuana DUI Law for Medical Cannabis Cardholders

If you are a registered medical cannabis user, you are not subject to the Illinois legal limit for THC. This is because THC can still appear in your bloodstream long after its intoxicating effects have worn off. This is very different from alcohol, where there is a direct relationship between a person’s current blood-alcohol concentration and the impairment to their driving skills.

Therefore, if you are a medical cannabis cardholder, and you are stopped by the police and suspected of driving under the influence, you will not be subjected to chemical testing for THC. In other words, your THC level cannot be used as evidence to support a DUI charge against you. You could still be tested for alcohol or other drugs, however.

If the police suspect your impaired driving is due to marijuana use, they will use the standardized field sobriety tests to determine if you are impaired and should be charged with DUI. These tests include the walk-and-turn, the horizontal gaze test, and the one-legged stand. While other drivers may legally refuse to perform the field sobriety tests, medical cannabis cardholders may not refuse.

For a medical cannabis user, failing the field sobriety tests will result in the same penalties as if you fail a blood test for THC, alcohol, or drugs. In other words, your driver’s license will be suspended, and you can be charged with DUI. Your status as a medical cannabis user is not a valid legal defense against driving while impaired.

Remember, though, that just because you are charged with DUI does not necessarily mean you will be convicted. A skilled DUI defense attorney can challenge the charges in any number of ways. For example, the police may not have had probable cause to stop you in the first place, or they may not have conducted and interpreted the field sobriety tests correctly.  

An Aurora DUI Defense Attorney Can Help

A DUI conviction can be very costly, especially if you need to drive for your job. If you have been arrested for DUI—whether due to alcohol, marijuana, or another intoxicating drug—seek advice immediately from an experienced DuPage County DUI defense lawyer. The Law Office of Patricia Magaña will examine all the details of your case, looking for ways to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed and helping you keep a DUI conviction off your record. Contact us at 630-448-2001 for a free consultation. Se Habla Español.






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