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Illinois’ Marijuana DUI Law Not Changed by Legislators

July 18th, 2014 at 7:58 am

According to an article recently published, state legislators in Illinois will likely not address issues brought up by the inclusion of marijuana in the state’s DUI law until next year. Currently, the law allows law enforcement to charge drivers with a DUI who were driving under the drug’s influence, even when no evidence of impairment exists. Many are joining in an effort to change this portion of the DUI law in Illinois.

A Bill to Change the Law

A bill was drafted to address the issue and was sponsored by a Senator from Chicago. Although it was recently returned to the Senate committee, likely for the rest of the General Assembly’s current session, supporters are adamant that it will not be forgotten. The plan is to reintroduce the bill next session. Many supporters of the bill are saying the reason for the delay is due to the perception that the bill may be moving backwards in DUI enforcement. Because of this perception, it may take some time for the proposal to gain support.

The bill would seek to change the DUI law by not imposing a DUI charge if any amount of illegal drug is found in a person’s system, but instead imposing a separate criminal offense if the presence of a drug was detected in a person’s system. Many are supporting the bill, but acknowledge that it may require some minor changes to gain enough support to pass. One such change may be to focus the proposed change only on marijuana and not any other illegal drug.

Current Law

Under the relevant Illinois DUI law currently, a driver can be charged with driving under the influence of marijuana if any trace of the drug is detected in his or her blood or urine. The problem is that traces of marijuana can be found in a person’s system several weeks after they actually used the drug. The law does not require prosecutors to prove that a driver was impaired by the drug that he previously ingested, only that traces of the drug were found in his system at the time he was operating a vehicle.

This law is having profound and sometimes tragic outcomes for those charged with a DUI. Numerous defendants have been charged with aggravated DUI causing death under the marijuana portion of the DUI law, and have been sentenced to years in jail as a result.

DUI Defense Attorney

While the bill has not yet passed, many supporters are considering the simple discussion of the issue a positive step towards addressing it. If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI in Illinois, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. The lawyers at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successfully represented clients in DUI cases. Contact our experienced Cook County criminal defense lawyers today for a consultation to discuss your case. We serve clients in Cook and DuPage Counties.

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