In most states, DUI crimes are not limited to driving while under the influence of alcohol. Rather, a person can typically be charged with a DUI offense for driving while impaired due to the use of prescription, illicit, or recreational drugs, such as marijuana. While the police usually employ chemical testing to determine if a person is impaired due to the use of alcohol, such testing must be warranted under the circumstances. This was demonstrated in a recent Illinois case in which marijuana-related DUI charges stemming from a fatal car accident were dismissed due to the lack of evidence the defendant was impaired. If you are an Illinois resident faced with marijuana-related DUI charges, it is advisable to speak with a trusted Illinois DUI attorney regarding your possible defenses.
Dismissal of DUI Charges Following Suppression of Evidence
It is reported that the defendant, who works as a truck driver, was involved in a car crash in the early morning hours in July 2017. The driver of the other vehicle in the crash ultimately died due to her injuries. When the police arrived at the scene to investigate the accident, they spoke with the defendant, who was not observed to show any signs of impairment.
Allegedly, in response to questions from the police, the defendant admitted to smoking marijuana the night before the accident. He was subsequently asked to submit to chemical testing and, based on the results of the test, charged with aggravated DUI causing death. He subsequently filed a motion to suppress his chemical test results and statements, arguing there was no probable cause to suspect him of DUI and that he was questioned without being advised of his Miranda rights. The court agreed with the defendant and granted the motion, which ultimately resulted in the dismissal of the DUI charges.
Marijuana-Related DUI Charges in Illinois
Under Illinois law, it is legal to use marijuana recreationally; however, similar to alcohol, there are rules regarding marijuana use, and a person can nonetheless be charged with a criminal offense for driving a vehicle after ingesting marijuana. In other words, under the current law, it is unlawful to operate a vehicle while impaired due to the use of alcohol, and anyone who does so may be charged with a DUI offense.
Further, if a person has a whole blood THC level of five nanograms or more, the person is presumed to be impaired due to marijuana use. If a person has a THC blood level that is below five nanograms, though, evidence of the person’s THC blood level is merely considered evidence on the issue of whether the person is impaired due to marijuana use. It is clear, however, that an officer must have probable cause for suspecting a person of DUI, marijuana-related or otherwise, prior to asking the person to submit to chemical testing.
Speak to an Experienced Illinois attorney
While recreational marijuana use is legal in Illinois, people can still face criminal charges for DUI if they drive while impaired after consuming marijuana. If you are accused of a DUI offense because of marijuana use, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney regarding what evidence the State may introduce against you at trial. Attorney Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC is an experienced Illinois DUI attorney with the skills and resources needed to help you seek a just outcome. Mr. Harvatin can be contacted through the online form or at 217.525.0520 to schedule a meeting to discuss your case.