Medical Marijuana and Illinois DUI law

medical marijuana user, Illinois criminal defense attorney, field sobriety tests, Illinois DUI, With Illinois joining the list of states that allow the use of marijuana for medical treatment, there are some changes to the Illinois law on driving under the influence (DUI) geared to accommodate the medical marijuana law. The medical marijuana law, known officially as the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, was signed into law last year. The law allows a person with a prescription to legally use marijuana in order to treat symptoms of a debilitating medical condition or lessen any pain associated with it.

DUI Laws Regarding Marijuana

 Under the Illinois DUI law, it is illegal for anyone to drive a vehicle while impaired by the use of alcohol or drugs. While the DUI law prohibits driving while there is any trace of an intoxicating drug in your system, the law provides an exception for medical marijuana users. This exception recognizes that marijuana does not immediately leave the body after use. In fact, marijuana can sometimes be detected in a user’s system up to thirty days after use.

However, even with the exception, the user has to have a valid marijuana use license, and cannot be impaired while driving. Illinois DUI law still does not recognize a lawful prescription as a defense to a DUI violation. That is, if a person drives while impaired by use of marijuana, it is no defense that he or she is a medical user with a prescription. There is a similar restriction for users of other prescribed drugs that may cause impairment.

Another important change to the DUI law is that a medical marijuana user issued a registry card under the marijuana law automatically agrees to standard field sobriety testing if stopped for a suspected DUI violation. However, the law stresses that just because you have a registry card does not give the police an automatic reason to stop someone for a DUI and conduct tests. An officer has to have another marijuana influence-related reason to stop you, and the reason has to be written down on the test results and other reports relating to the testing. If a registered user fails a standard field sobriety test, he or she will have their driver’s license suspended immediately. While you may refuse to take a field sobriety test, it will cost you a 12-month suspension instead of a six-month suspension if you take the test and fail it.

There are a few other changes in the DUI laws that apply to medical marijuana users. It is best to remember that a medical marijuana registry card is not a get-out-of-jail-free card when arrested for a marijuana-related crime. Although the rules have relaxed for medical marijuana use, it is still illegal to drive impaired under the influence of marijuana.

Contact A DUI Attorney

If you have been arrested for a DUI while using a validly prescribed medical marijuana, contact a knowledgeable Illinois DUI attorney at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC for a consultation on your case.