Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of any intoxicating substance is illegal in Illinois, whether it’s alcohol, prescription drugs, or marijuana and cannabis-related products.
While it’s been legal to purchase recreational marijuana since Jan. 1, police officers’ methods used to detect so-called “drugged drivers” remain questionable.
How do cannabis DUI arrests happen?
If an officer suspects a driver of being impaired by cannabis, they can pull them over and administer field sobriety tests. Based on the officer’s judgment:
- The driver can be released if the officer doesn’t suspect they are impaired
- The officer can arrest a driver suspected of being impaired
- If indicators exist, such as smell or the driver’s demeanor, the officer will ask the driver to agree to blood and urine tests
- If the driver refuses tests, he or she can lose their license for one year
- If a blood test shows five nanograms or more of THC in the driver’s blood, or 10 nanograms or more in urine, the driver can lose their license for six months
There are many flaws in cannabis DUI testing
Right now, the tools to test and identify drivers under the influence of cannabis are extremely similar to detecting drunk drivers. That’s problematic for standard law enforcement DUI tools, such as:
- Field sobriety tests: The effects of marijuana on a person’s body are vastly different than someone impaired by alcohol.
- Breath tests: No accepted version of a cannabis Breathalyzer currently exists.
- Chemical testing: Again, cannabis interacts with the body much differently than alcohol, which leaves the system more quickly. Cannabis can be detected weeks later, even if the person is not high at the time of the test.
Always take proper precautions
The best way to avoid a cannabis DUI is not to drive after smoking marijuana or using other cannabis-related products. However, if you are charged with drugged driving, an experienced criminal defense attorney will protect your rights by questioning whether officers had probable cause to stop you in the first place. Your lawyer will also scrutinize the methods used by police that can lead to an arrest.