States across the country continue to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes. Subsequently, they are slowly defining what constitutes impairment for purposes of marijuana-related DUI crimes. While some states have marijuana DUI laws that predate legalization, such laws may be antiquated and unsuitable. The courts are often reluctant to overturn existing laws, however, as demonstrated in a recent ruling issued by a Washington state court in which it upheld a defendant’s marijuana-related DUI conviction. If you are charged with a marijuana-related DUI crime, it is prudent to speak with an Illinois DUI defense lawyer to determine your possible defenses.
The Washington Ruling
It is reported that the police pulled over a man in Washington state after they observed him driving his vehicle erratically. After he was stopped by the police, the man admitted to smoking marijuana earlier in the day but stated he no longer felt impaired. After he submitted to field sobriety tests, he was arrested; he subsequently underwent a blood test that revealed his THC level to be almost twice the legal limit of 5 nanograms per milliliter. He was subsequently charged with and convicted of DUI.
Allegedly, the man appealed, arguing in part that the applicable statute imposed vague and arbitrary standards with regard to the legal THC limit. While the justices presiding over the matter agreed that it was difficult to pin down the correlation between impairment and THC levels, blood measurements still provided a constitutionally acceptable and useful measurement tool. Thus, they upheld his conviction.
Illinois DUI Laws Related to Marijuana Use
Under Illinois law, consenting adults can use marijuana not only for medicinal purposes but also for recreational reasons. There are nonetheless restrictions that pertain to marijuana use, however. Specifically, minors cannot legally use marijuana. Further, people who drive while under the influence of marijuana may be charged with DUI crimes.
Illinois’ DUI statute expressly states that it is illegal for a person to operate a vehicle if they are impaired due to the use of marijuana. Further, the law states that if a person’s whole blood THC level is five nanograms or higher, they will be deemed presumptively impaired. People who have THC levels below five nanograms can still be convicted of DUI offenses, however, their THC levels can be used as evidence of their impairment. Merely because a person is charged with a marijuana-related DUI crime does not mean they will be convicted, though, as there are often numerous defenses available.
Meet with an Experienced Illinois DWI Defense Attorney
It is legal for adults to use marijuana for recreational or medical purposes in Illinois, but they can nonetheless be charged with DWI offenses for operating vehicles with THC in their system. If you are charged with a marijuana-related DUI offense, it is critical to hire an attorney that will advocate aggressively on your behalf. Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is an experienced Illinois DUI defense attorney, and if he represents you, he will help you seek the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can contact Mr. Harvatin through the form online or at 217.525.0520 to set up a conference.