As attitudes and laws regarding marijuana use evolve across the United States, states like Illinois that have legalized recreational and medical cannabis must update their DUI laws accordingly. With marijuana impairment more difficult to evaluate than alcohol impairment, people accused of driving under the influence of marijuana face many uncertainties. Maryland, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana on July 1st, recently took a look at how such laws impact DUI crimes in Maryland and nationwide. If you find yourself charged with a marijuana DUI in Illinois, it is critical to work with an experienced attorney to protect your rights.
The Impact of Recent Changes in Maryland’s Marijuana Laws on DUI Crimes
It is alleged that a recent study by the national non-profit Drug-Free America Foundation suggests that cannabis-related DUIs are much higher in states where marijuana is legal compared to states where it remains illegal. Specifically, the study found that cannabis-related DUIs were 32% higher in states with legalized marijuana. This caused concern in Maryland, which recently fully legalized recreational marijuana use.
It is reported that unlike DUI laws relating to alcohol use, Maryland does not have a legal limit for how much THC can be present to constitute a DUI. However, drivers can still be charged if police observe signs of impaired driving and find evidence of marijuana use. Impairment from cannabis can be unpredictable and delayed compared to alcohol impairment. People often underestimate how impaired they are after using marijuana. Some drivers do not seem too worried yet, believing that the same people who used marijuana illegally will simply continue to do so now that it is legal. Maryland police departments have reported slight increases in suspected cannabis DUIs in July after legalization took effect.
Marijuana DUI Laws in Illinois
Though now legal for adults 21 and over, marijuana use in Illinois remains regulated. Operating a vehicle while impaired by marijuana remains illegal. Illinois’ DUI law states that drivers with five nanograms of THC per milliliter of whole blood or more are legally considered impaired. However, drivers with lower THC levels may still face DUI charges if other evidence indicates impairment.
Unlike with alcohol, science has yet to determine a clear legal limit for marijuana impairment while driving. THC levels do not appear to consistently correlate with degree of impairment. This makes marijuana DUIs more challenging to investigate and prosecute. With fewer black-and-white standards, the subjective opinions of law enforcement officers play a greater role.
If you are accused of a marijuana DUI in Illinois, working with an experienced DUI defense attorney is crucial. A knowledgeable attorney can evaluate if proper testing procedures were followed and if your rights were upheld. They can also argue against unfair subjective assessments of your impairment. With the complexities involved in marijuana DUIs, a strong legal defense is key.
Meet With a Skilled Illinois DUI Attorney
If you are charged with driving under the influence of marijuana in Illinois, it is advisable to meet with a lawyer as soon as possible. Attorney Theodore J. Harvatin of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a skilled Illinois DUI attorney who is familiar with the intricacies of Illinois’ evolving marijuana laws, and if he represents you, he will fight to help you defend your rights. You can reach Mr. Harvatin at 217.525.0520 or through the form online to set up a meeting.