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Changing Marijuana Legislation in Illinois and the Impacts on a DUI Charge

Anyone who has been paying attention to the news understands that there has been a changing attitude towards the use of marijuana in the form of both social attitudes and legislation. Back in 2013, the state of Illinois signed into law an act that made the use of medical marijuana to treat certain medical conditions legal.

While this represents a step forward in this regard, the effects of marijuana on the body with respect to driving still exist. Therefore, it is not unusual for people to be pulled over under the suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. It is understandably important to understand your rights should this situation ever affect you.

Driving Under the Influence and Sobriety Tests

When people are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, it could be for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the officer pulls someone over for running a stop sign and the driver appears under the influence when the officer approaches. Other times, an accident has occurred and one of the drivers appears to be intoxicated.

Whatever the reason, the officer could administer a variety of field sobriety tests including the horizontal nystagmus test, the one-leg test, or the walk and turn test. People asked to perform these tests have to choose wisely because refusing the test or taking and failing it could result in serious consequences. People with Medical Marijuana cards are required to perform field sobriety tests or risk having their cards cancelled.

Blood Tests, THC, and Driving Under the Influence

People who are suspected of driving while impaired are subject to a very clear set of laws because the legal limit for alcohol concentration in the blood is 0.08 and there are a variety of tests that law enforcement officials can use to obtain this information.

Marijuana cannot be detected via breath testers that are designed to test alcohol. Therefore, at this time, police officers must use urinalysis and blood draws to detect the amount of THC in a person's system. 

This has a number of implications for THC and marijuana. First of all, lawful medical marijuana use should essentially not be considered an unlawful use. Without a blood draw or urinalysis sample, police do not know how much THC is in a person's system - making prosecution that much more difficult. 

The Importance of the Medical Registry Card

The law goes on to state that people in possession of a medical registry card cannot be considered to have unlawfully used marijuana with respect to a charge of driving under the influence; however, this does not mean that people cannot be impaired due to the use of medical cannabis. The difference is that their possession of THC cannot be considered "unlawful;" however, they can still be under the influence due to their medical cannabis. Both pieces of the legislation are important and people using medical cannabis should have their card with them at all times for this reason. 

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