Driving While High on Marijuana vs. Driving Drunk

 Posted on August 01,2023 in Criminal Law

b2ap3_thumbnail_drunk-driving-DUI-interstate.jpgWith the changing landscape of marijuana legislation nationwide, questions arise about its impact on traffic safety. In Illinois, where both recreational and medicinal use of marijuana is legal, it is important to understand the legal implications of driving under the influence. Today, we will examine whether driving while high on marijuana is the same offense as driving drunk in Illinois. If you are facing charges related to drunk or drugged driving, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to get the legal assistance you need.

Legal Framework

In Illinois, driving under the influence (DUI) is a severe offense that encompasses both alcohol and drug impairment. However, the legal standards for marijuana DUI differ from those for alcohol-related DUI. The primary distinction lies in the testing methods and threshold levels for impairment.

Testing Methods

When it comes to alcohol, it is well known that breathalyzer tests and blood alcohol content (BAC) levels serve as the standard measures of impairment. However, determining marijuana impairment is more complex. Traditional breathalyzers cannot detect marijuana use, so officers often rely on standardized field sobriety tests and drug recognition evaluations to assess impairment. These evaluations focus on physical and cognitive impairments to determine if an individual is unfit to drive.

Threshold Levels

Unlike alcohol, where a specific BAC level, 0.08 percent, triggers a per se violation, marijuana impairment is not defined by exact THC amounts. In case you are unaware, THC is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. In Illinois, if a driver’s blood contains five nanograms of marijuana per liter of blood or 10 nanograms of THC per liter of saliva or urine, that person may be considered driving impaired by marijuana and thus may be arrested and charged for drugged driving.

Consequences of Drugged Driving

Driving drugged in Illinois carries severe penalties, even for a first offense. If convicted of a first or second-offense drugged driving charge, a Class A misdemeanor, the individual may face up to one year in jail and fines of $2,500. If arrested for drugged driving a third time, this is escalated to a Class 2 felony. As such, if convicted, you may face three years in prison and fines of $25,000. Aside from these penalties, you may lose your driving privileges for a period if you are convicted.

Contact an Arlington Heights, IL Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested for drugged driving, contact the experienced Rolling Meadows, IL criminal defense lawyer with Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law. Call 847-253-3400 for a free consultation.


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