Over the past few decades, states throughout the country have been legalizing medical and recreational marijuana use. Many states have subsequently altered their DUI laws as well to define the legal limits of marijuana with regard to the operation of motor vehicles on public roads. Determining how to investigate and prosecute marijuana-based DUI offenses has proved challenging for many states, as the process of evaluating impairment is not as straightforward as it is in cases involving alcohol use. Recently, however, professors at UCLA have made strides in developing a marijuana breathalyzer that they believe will cut down on unjust arrests. If you are accused of driving while under the influence of marijuana in Illinois, it is critical to confer with an Illinois DUI defense attorney regarding your options for protecting your rights.
The Marijuana Breathalyzer
It is reported that currently, marijuana is a Schedule I drug under federal law, which is the same Schedule as heroin and a higher Schedule than fentanyl. Approximately 20 states have legalized recreational marijuana use, though, and many other states permit medical marijuana use. The decriminalization of marijuana use has presented legal and scientific challenges with regard to the prosecution of DUI crimes, including how to accurately determine whether a driver is impaired due to marijuana use, as a person can test positive for marijuana days after they have ingested it.
Allegedly, though, UCLA chemistry professors believe they have uncovered a method for THC detection, however, similar to a breathalyzer test, that would provide more precise results and presumably cut down on DUI arrests and convictions for people who had positive THC levels while driving but were not actually impaired by marijuana use. It will likely be several years before the test will be available for use by law enforcement agencies, though.
Illinois Laws Regarding Marijuana Use
Pursuant to Illinois law, adults can legally use marijuana recreationally and to treat medical conditions. People under the age of eighteen are prohibited from using marijuana. Further, adults who use marijuana must comply with other laws relating to its use, like Illinois’ DUI laws, and if they do not, they may be charged with DUI offenses.
In other words, Illinois’ DUI law provides that it is illegal for people to operate motor vehicles if they are impaired due to marijuana use. The law states that people with whole blood THC levels of five nanograms or higher are presumed to be impaired. People with whole blood THC levels that are less than five nanograms may also be charged with DUI crimes, and the state can introduce evidence of their THC levels as proof of their impairment.
Speak to a Trusted Illinois DUI Attorney
Although Illinois law permits adults to use marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes, the use is regulated, which means, among other things, that people may be charged with DUI crimes for operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana. If you are charged with a marijuana-related DUI crime, it is smart to talk to an attorney about your potential defenses. Attorney Theodore J. Harvatin of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a trusted Illinois DUI attorney who can advise you of your rights and develop compelling arguments on your behalf to provide you with a strong chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. You can reach Mr. Harvatin at 217.525.0520 or through the form online to schedule a meeting.