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Stoned Driving in Illinois: New DUI Marijuana Standards

Posted on in DUI

marijuana, Elgin DUI defense attorneyThe debate over marijuana has been ongoing for a number of years in this country. Some states take a much more permissive approach to the drug and its use while others remain strict, begrudgingly updating their laws only when necessary. Thus far, Illinois has only been willing to take certain legislative steps pertaining to the use of marijuana in the state. Its medical marijuana program was very slow to get underway and efforts to decriminalize—not legalize—low-level possession of the drug took several years to pass. When the decriminalization bill was approved, however, it also addressed the issue of driving under the influence of marijuana, creating a quantitative standard for determining a driver’s impairment.

New Standards

Prior to the new law taking effect this past July, the state of Illinois maintained a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of marijuana. If any trace of the drug was found in the driver’s system, he or she could be charged with DUI. The major problem with such an approach was that existing tests could detect traces of marijuana in a person’s body several weeks after use. In essence, the tests did not address the driver’s current state of impairment whatsoever.

Under the new law, a trace of marijuana is not enough to warrant a charge of driving under the influence. Instead, a new standard has been created, similar to the one in place for a driver’s blood-alcohol content (BAC). Law enforcement officers may use blood or saliva tests to determine how much THC—the component of marijuana that creates the high—is present in the driver’s system. A driver is considered under the influence if the test result show more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood or 10 nanograms of THC per milliliter of saliva. Of course, such tests are not as convenient as the breath tests commonly used in alcohol DUI cases.

Drugged Driving Consequences

While reputable sources have questioned the scientific basis for quantifying the impairment standard for marijuana, the measure is now law. That means if you are charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, you will face the same penalties as a person charged with an alcohol-related DUI. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could be facing expensive fines, time in prison, and the loss of your driving privileges.

If you or someone you love has been arrested for drugged driving, contact an experienced Elgin criminal defense attorney. Call The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola at 847-488-0889 to schedule your free confidential consultation today. We are ready to fight for your rights.


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