Marijuana is Decriminalized in Illinois – What Does That Mean?
In 2016, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law that decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana throughout the state. This does not mean marijuana is legal to possess in Illinois. Rather, it means that when an individual is found to possess a small amount of marijuana, he or she may face a civil charge, rather than a criminal charge. If you face any type of marijuana-related charge, you can fight it with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Although you will not face jail time or other criminal penalties for a civil charge, fighting your civil charge can clear your name and potentially enable you to avoid professional and social repercussions.
It Does Not Mean Marijuana is Legal to Possess
You cannot legally possess marijuana in Illinois without being a registered medical marijuana patient. You also cannot legally consume marijuana in any form while in public, nor can you legally purchase marijuana if you are not a medical marijuana patient.
Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana is a Civil Offense, Not a Criminal Offense
In Illinois, it is now a civil offense to possess 10 grams of marijuana or less. The penalty for this offense is a fine of up to $200.
Civil charges like the possession of a small amount of marijuana are handled at the municipal level. When you receive a ticket for marijuana possession, it includes instructions for paying your fine online or at the municipal courthouse. You may be asked to appear in court. If your ticket states that you must appear in court, you are required to do so on the date printed on the ticket. Failure to appear in court when summoned to do so is an act of contempt of court.
You Can Still Get a DUI for Driving with THC in Your System
With the decriminalization law, the Illinois state legislature set the legal THC level for drivers at five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood within two hours of consumption.
Correlating the THC level in an individual’s blood with his or her level of intoxication can be more difficult than correlating one’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level with his or her level of impairment. Measuring the amount of THC in an individual’s bloodstream requires a blood sample. Although THC, the compound in marijuana that makes a user feel “high” affects drivers much differently than alcohol affects them, it can make a driver a hazard to him- or herself and others on the roadway. A DUI for marijuana impairment has the same penalties as a DUI for alcohol impairment.
Work with an Experienced Naperville Criminal Defense Lawyer
Whether you are facing a civil or criminal marijuana possession charge, you have the right to fight the charge with help from an experienced Naperville criminal defense lawyer. To get started on your legal defense strategy, contact our team at Donahue & Sowa to set up your initial consultation in our office.