In 2019, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana use. Since January 2020, Illinoisans—and out of state visitors—are allowed to purchase marijuana for personal use from state-licensed retailers. Legalizing recreational marijuana is not a simple process. To protect public health and safety while also legalizing marijuana, legislators have to address public health and safety questions in their legislation.
One of the most important public health questions is how to protect the public against individuals driving under the influence of marijuana. Many believe that driving under the influence of marijuana isn’t as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. This is not true. Marijuana slows down reaction times, affects visual perception, and can act as a distraction itself, so driving under its influence is just as dangerous as driving after drinking.
Read on for a breakdown of Illinois’ cannabis DUI laws, including driving under the influence penalties.
Can I Get a DUI for Driving on Marijuana in Illinois?
Because it is dangerous to drive under the influence of marijuana, it is illegal to do so in Illinois. In fact, if you are caught driving high in Illinois, the state can charge you with a driving under the influence (DUI) infraction. A DUI is a Class A Misdemeanor in Illinois. If convicted of DUI, the consequences can include jail time for up to a year, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. As a result of the harsh penalties, anyone facing a marijuana-related DUI charge should retain the services of an experienced local attorney handling DUI cases as soon as possible.
How Do They Test for Marijuana?
If Illinois police pull someone over during a traffic stop and suspect that they are under the influence of marijuana, they can administer a chemical sobriety test. A traditional breathalyzer test cannot test for the presence of marijuana like it does with alcohol. Instead, Illinois police use two different methods to chemically detect marijuana. Both methods look for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the body.
The first method is a blood test. If someone is suspected of driving under the influence, the police can administer a blood test to look for THC in their bloodstream. A positive test result of more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood supports a DUI charge. The second method is the testing of other bodily substances for the presence of THC. Most often done through a urinalysis, a positive result of 10 nanograms of THC per milliliter of other bodily substance also supports a DUI charge. Readers should note that as with alcohol, driving with an open container of marijuana in the car can trigger a DUI charge.
What If I Refuse the Test?
If you refuse to take a sobriety test, there are consequences. If the police suspect you of driving under the influence of marijuana and you refuse a sobriety test, your driver’s license is subject to an administrative suspension.
Like all states, Illinois has an implied consent rule attached to its driving regulations. In Illinois, this means that by driving in the state, you automatically consent for police to administer chemical tests when they suspect a DUI. According to this set of rules, known as the Statutory Summary Suspension Rules for suspected DUI, anyone who refuses a chemical test is subject to driver license suspension for some time. The summary suspension is an administrative penalty, so it is entirely separate from any related criminal offenses. However, prosecutors can use someone’s refusal of a chemical test and subsequent summary suspension as evidence for a criminal DUI charge.
How Long Do Special Statutory Summary Suspensions Last?
The length of an Illinois statutory summary suspension for suspected DUI depends on two factors. First, it depends on whether the suspected individual is a first time offender. Second, the suspension length hinges on whether the suspected individual failed or refused testing.
If someone has no prior DUIs or summary suspensions from any state in the last 5 years, they qualify as a first offender. If someone has a summary suspension but does not have a criminal DUI charge, they are not a first offender.
First offenders who fail a chemical sobriety test face a 6-month license suspension. On the other hand, first offenders who refuse a chemical sobriety test face a 12-month license suspension.
Summary suspension periods for repeated offenders are harsher than those for first offenders. Someone who is a repeat offender and fails a chemical sobriety test faces a 12-month administrative license suspension. Finally, a repeat offender who refuses a chemical sobriety test is subject to a 36-month administrative license suspension. Anyone facing a summary suspension for DUI can appeal the decision in Circuit Court by filling out the form on the back of the summary suspension notice that they receive in the mail.
You Can get a Marijuana DUI Even If You Are Not Stoned
Because of the way marijuana works in the body, you can end up with a DUI charge even when you are not high. The threshold amounts of THC for a marijuana DUI are microscopic. A nanogram is one billionth of a gram, so you can see how easily the concentration of THC in your blood can reach the threshold. THC is fat soluble and remains detectable in the body for hours or sometimes days after someone uses marijuana. Many different factors affect how long it is detectable in the bloodstream, including your overall health, metabolism, and body fat percentage, as well as how often you use marijuana. People who use marijuana regularly often have detectable THC in their blood a few days after the marijuana’s effects have worn off. Thus, even when you do not feel marijuana’s effects, if you regularly use marijuana and drive, a DUI is a constant risk. You can cite not feeling marijuana’s effects at the time of a traffic stop as grounds for an appeal or reduced sentence, but by the letter of the law, such a defense will not always work.
What Are the Penalties for a Marijuana DUI?
As noted, Illinois prosecutes most first-time DUI charges as Class A misdemeanors. A conviction for a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois brings up to one year imprisonment, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. For repeat offenders, and those who injure others while driving under the influence, the penalties increase. Second offenders can expect a mandatory minimum of five days imprisonment on top of other penalties.
In the third and fourth instance, a DUI aggravates to a Class 2 felony, which brings three to seven years imprisonment, up to $25,000 in fines, or both. Finally, fifth and sixth offenses are Class 1 felonies that bring 4-15 years imprisonment and 6-30 years imprisonment, respectively, alongside the same fines as a third or fourth offense. The best way to mitigate any of these penalties is to hire an experienced local attorney handling DUI cases to fight the charge.
Trying to avoid fines, jail time, and license suspension is not the only reason to fight a marijuana-related DUI offense. There are countless penalties aside from those imposed by the state that a DUI can cause. Here are just a few of them:
- Social stigma;
- Job loss due to the criminal charge;
- Job loss due to an inability to drive to work;
- Job loss due to missing work for jail time;
- Increase in car insurance rates;
- Difficulty finding future employment;
- Difficulty getting a loan or a mortgage; and
- Jeopardization of child custody.
These are just a few of the many ways that a DUI can negatively impact your life. Despite its recent legalization, the negative social stigma surrounding marijuana use is still prevalent in many social circles. Thus, any marijuana-related criminal charge can have ancillary penalties entirely separate from those that the state imposes.
If You Find Yourself Facing a Marijuana-Related DUI Charge
If the police are charging you with a marijuana related DUI, don’t wait to find legal help. Call us at The Jordan Law Firm today. The Jordan Law Firm has considerable experience in defending clients against DUI charges specifically, so we know the ins and outs of Illinois DUI rules. Furthermore, the DUI legal practitioner at our Arlington Heights and Waukegan locations closely followed the development of Illinois’ marijuana DUI laws long before the state implemented them. For these reasons, our lawyer can offer an unmatched level of service and expertise to our clients affected by Illinois’ marijuana DUI laws. Don’t wait for someone else to protect your freedom and constitutional rights. Instead, take things into your own hands and call us at The Jordan Law Firm today for the white glove legal service you deserve.Read More
After a DUI conviction, you have to go through a formal DUI evaluation called the Alcohol and Drug Uniform Report. The purpose of this assessment is to look at your past behavior with drugs and alcohol and measure the possibility you’ll drive impaired again.
Illinois law requires a DUI evaluation if you’re hoping to win supervision, and the judge has to review the report before handing down a sentence. The only way to avoid this process is to beat the DUI charges.
Your best chance of getting the charges dropped or winning an acquittal is with the help of a DUI defense legal practitioner. Call The Jordan Law Firm at 312-380-9, or use the online form to book a free consultation. Based in Waukegan, IL, Anisa Jordan defends individuals in Cook, Lake, McHenry, Kane, and DuPage Counties.
When Do I Have to Go Through a DUI Evaluation?
After a conviction, a judge will order you to go through the evaluation process before sentencing you for a DUI. Illinois law requires it. The Illinois Secretary of State (SOS) requires you to go through the evaluation process before getting a restricted driver’s license or regaining your full driving privileges. DUI evaluations are usually related to DUI charges, but not always.
You have to pay for the DUI evaluation. If you can’t afford it, Illinois requires each evaluation provider to offer it at a reduced rate.
Who Performs DUI Evaluations?
The Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse of the Illinois Department of Human Resources licenses DUI evaluation programs and DUI evaluators. You, your lawyer, the prosecutor, and the judge know your DUI evaluator. But their name and recommendation are sealed in the court records, which means they aren’t public knowledge.
Cook County and its collar counties have their own rules and procedures for DUI evaluations. The evaluation is standardized for all of Illinois, but your process varies a little depending on the county. Some county courts require you to go through a DUI evaluation with a specific organization.
The DUI Evaluation Process
During your assessment, the DUI evaluator reviews your:
- Driving history,
- Chemical test results,
- Objective Test score and category, and
- Interview answers.
You have to participate in a face-to-face interview with the evaluator. They’ll ask you about your current and past alcohol and drug use. They’ll ask you about past DUI arrests or convictions if there are any on your record. You don’t have to answer questions about any current DUI or criminal charges. But refusing to answer questions means the evaluator might consider the review incomplete.
The evaluator will compare your answers to your driving history and chemical test results. It’s important that you tell the truth. The evaluator will note if you refuse to answer, lie, or provide inconsistent answers.
The evaluator assigns you a risk level and records their recommendation on the Alcohol and Drug Uniform Report form for the court or the SOS.
The DUI Evaluator Assigns You a Risk Level
The evaluator assigns you a level of minimal, moderate, significant, or high risk, which indicates the likelihood that you’ll drive drunk or while on drugs again. Your risk level determines the type and length of treatment the judge orders.
The judge has some discretion in sentencing you, but they can’t go below the minimum consequences required by law.
This level indicates you don’t have any previous DUI cases, had a BAC less than 0.15, and have no symptoms of alcohol or drug abuse or dependence. A judge may require you to complete at least 10 hours of DUI risk education.
A moderate risk level shows you have no previous DUI cases, had a high BAC in your current case, but have no other signs of substance abuse or dependence. A judge may require you to complete at least 10 hours of DUI risk education and 12 hours of early intervention over four weeks. The judge also may assign you to complete any necessary treatment and participate in a continuing care plan.
This risk level shows you have a previous DUI or similar conviction on your record, a BAC of .20 or higher in the current case, and other symptoms of substance abuse. A judge may require you to complete at least 10 hours of DUI risk education, go through at least 20 hours of alcohol or drug treatment, and participate in a continuing care plan.
You’re considered high risk if you have symptoms of substance dependence regardless of your driving record or have two prior DUI convictions within the previous 10 years. A judge may require you to complete at least 75 hours of alcohol or drug treatment and participate in a continuing care plan. You may be required to admit yourself to an in-patient treatment facility.
Other Possible Outcomes After a DUI Evaluation
If you don’t cooperate with the assessment, you may face:
- An additional evaluation process at your expense;
- Delayed sentencing in your DUI case;
- Restricted driving privileges; or
- Loss of driving privileges.
Also, remember that these consequences are in addition to other penalties, such as jail time, probation, fines, court fees, a driver’s license suspension, and an installation of an ignition interlock device.
Your Rights During a DUI Evaluation
At any time during the evaluation process, you have the right to:
- Withdraw from the process;
- Seek a second opinion through another evaluation; or
- Reject the completed evaluation.
Whether any of these options is a good idea depends on your case. It’s best to consult a DUI defense legal practitioner about your options. You may benefit from a new evaluation with a different professional.
Call a Waukegan DUI Legal Team Today
Anisa Jordan, the founder of The Jordan Law Firm, is ready to defend you against DUI charges in Waukegan and throughout the Chicago area. She fights to get you the best possible results, whether that’s dropped charges, an acquittal, or a lenient sentence.
Contact us online or call 312-380-9221 to schedule a free consultation.Read More
The weather’s slowly improving in Northern Illinois, and for some of us, that means getting out on the water. A day on Lake Michigan can be the perfect way to relax and spend time with family and friends. But if you mix boating with a few alcoholic drinks, you might find yourself in trouble with the law.
Operating any vessel under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both is illegal in Illinois. It’s a lot like getting arrested for DUI.
If you or a relative find yourself charged with boating under the influence (BUI), call The Jordan Law Firm at 224-340-6522 for help.
What Is Illinois’s Boating Under the Influence Law?
You can be charged with a crime if you operate or are in physical control of a watercraft while:
- You’re under the influence of alcohol;
- Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher;
- You’re under the influence of any drugs or combination of drugs that make you incapable of operating a watercraft safely;
- You have any amount of a controlled substance in your system; or
- You’re under the combined influence of alcohol and any drug.
Any amount of alcohol or an illegal drug in your system, even THC from legal cannabis, can lead to BUI charges. Most of the time, officers look for people over the legal limit. But the police can arrest you if they believe you aren’t operating a boat or other vessel safely because of drugs or alcohol.
What’s a Watercraft?
Illinois statutes use the term watercraft or vessel instead of boat. You might wonder why and ask, What is a watercraft? The term is defined in the Boat Registration and Safety Act as “every description of watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water,” though it explicitly doesn’t mean seaplanes.
A watercraft could be a:
- Personal watercraft like a jet ski,
- Non-powered watercraft like a canoe or kayak,
- Sailboat, or
If you believe you weren’t on a watercraft at the time of your arrest, talk with a lawyer right away.
Who Can Stop Me for a BUI?
Several authorities can stop you while boating off Waukegan Harbor, including the Illinois Conservation Police, the Lake County Sheriff Office’s Marine Unit, or the U.S. Coast Guard. They may stop you to check you’re following the rules and then may suspect you’re intoxicated. Or they may stop your boat because they notice signs of impairment.
What Happens After a BUI Arrest?
You may be arrested and booked into jail. At that time, you might be released on bail or held until your arraignment. If the police let you go quickly, don’t get back on a boat. Under Illinois law, you can’t operate a watercraft in the state for 24 hours after your arrest.
Do I Have to Take a Chemical Test?
Anyone who operates or controls a watercraft in Illinois has consented to a breath, blood, or urine test if the police arrest them for a BUI.
Do you have to give a breath, blood, or urine sample after a BUI arrest in Illinois? Yes and no. You can decline. But there are consequences for violating the implied consent law. If you refuse, your boating privileges will be suspended for at least two years.
Your license suspension goes into effect 28 days after your arrest. If you want to challenge the license suspension, call a lawyer right away. We can request a hearing on your behalf and fight the suspension and the charges.
Defending Against a Misdemeanor BUI Charge
After you’re arrested for a BUI, you’ll typically face a Class A misdemeanor charge. If you plead guilty or are convicted, a judge can sentence you to up to 364 days in jail. A judge can also fine you up to $2,500. Other potential punishments include supervision, probation, restitution, community service, home detention with electronic monitoring, or work release.
Under some circumstances, a BUI becomes a felony, which comes with much harsher consequences.
A prosecutor charges you with a Class 4 felony if:
- You have a previous BUI conviction;
- You caused another person great bodily harm, disfigurement, or a permanent disability; or
- You were operating a boat while your license was revoked or suspended due to a BUI.
A Class 4 felony is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine up to $24,000. But if you’re convicted for a BUI during which you caused someone serious harm, then you face between 1 and 12 years in prison.
A prosecutor would charge you with a Class 2 felony if you caused someone’s death while BUI. If convicted, you face between 3 and 14 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.
Don’t panic while reading these potential punishments. You need to know the worst-case scenario. But you might be able to avoid it by hiring an experienced defense attorney.
What If You Had a Child or Teen on the Boat?
If a minor under 16 years old was on the boat at the time of the BUI, you will face harsher penalties. If convicted, you have to pay a fine of at least $500 and complete at least five days of community service in a program that benefits children. The fine and number of days could be a lot higher.
You Might Lose Your Boating License
The Department of Natural Resources can suspend your boating privileges for a misdemeanor or felony BUI. If you’re a first-time BUI offender and found guilty of a misdemeanor, you’re exempt from the mandatory one-year suspension. If you’re guilty of a felony, you’ll lose your boating license for three years.
Ready to Call a Waukegan BUI Defense Lawyer?
Anisa Jordan, the founder of The Jordan Law Firm, can help you navigate BUI charges in Lake County or Cook County. She prides herself on fighting for individuals facing criminal charges. She knows how frustrating and scary the experience can be, especially if this is your first time in court.
Contact us online or call 224-340-6522 to set up a free consultation.Read More