In many states around the country, it is legal for people to use marijuana, either for medical or recreational purposes. Most states have restrictions surrounding marijuana use, though, which usually include prohibitions against driving while impaired. As marijuana use becomes increasingly legal, courts are attempting to navigate the complexities of marijuana DUI cases and what constitutes adequate evidence of impairment. Recently, an Arizona court ruled that people cannot be found guilty of DUI crimes for driving with inactive marijuana metabolites in their blood. If you are charged with a marijuana DUI offense, it is in your best interest to speak to an Illinois DUI defense lawyer about what defenses you may be able to assert.
The Arizona Ruling
It is alleged that the Arizona Supreme Court recently affirmed a lower court’s decision to dismiss a case against a man who was charged with driving while impaired following a blood test that revealed evidence of marijuana. In its decision, the court noted that the state argued that Arizona’s zero-tolerance marijuana law created a blanket ban on the presence of any marijuana metabolite in a person’s body when they are driving a vehicle, even if the metabolite does not cause impairment.
The court rejected the state’s argument, stating that the legislature’s intent was to prevent impaired driving. As such, the reference to metabolites in the law was limited to those that were actually capable of causing impairment. In other words, the court held that people could not be convicted of DUI offenses simply because there were metabolites in their blood that demonstrated prior marijuana use but did not cause impairment.
Illinois’ Marijuana DUI Laws
In Illinois law, it is lawful for people over the age of 18 to use marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. Minors are not legally permitted to use marijuana. Additionally, adult marijuana use is regulated in that people cannot operate vehicles while under the influence of marijuana. If they do, they may face DUI charges.
Specifically, under Illinois’ DUI statute, it is unlawful for an individual to drive or otherwise operate a vehicle while they are impaired due to the use of marijuana. The statute states that people who have a whole blood THC level of five nanograms or greater will be considered presumptively impaired. Parties with THC levels below five nanograms may be convicted for DUI crimes as well; while they will not be presumptively impaired, the state can introduce their THC levels as evidence of their impairment.
Confer with a Skilled Illinois DUI Attorney
Simply because the state charges someone with a marijuana-related DUI crime does not mean that it has sufficient evidence to establish guilt, and there are often numerous defenses defendants can assert to avoid convictions. If you are accused of a marijuana DUI offense, it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a skilled Illinois DUI defense attorney who can inform you of your rights and help you to seek the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can contact Mr. Harvatin by calling 217.525.0520 or using the form online to set up a meeting.