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Arlington Heights DUI defense attorneyIn 2014, the medicinal use of marijuana became legal in the state of Illinois. State law also made a provision for these users that is supposed to protect them if they choose to drive while not directly under the influence. Are they really protected, though? Like all things, it really just depends. Some might even argue that medical marijuana users are at an even higher risk of being charged with a DUI. The following information explains, and it can help you understand what to do if you are facing such charges.

Driving Protection to Medical Marijuana Users? Not Quite

While, in theory, the Medical Cannabis Act gives you the ability to drive with trace amounts of the drug in your system (supposedly without the fear of litigation), reckless driving of any sort could put you at risk for a DUI. As an example, holding a registry card is not supposed to be considered enough to constitute reasonable suspicion. Yet, if you pair that registration card with running a red light (even entirely sober), the officer can cite reasonable suspicion and require you to complete a field sobriety test. Of course, passing the test should be easy, as long as you are not under the influence, right?

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Arlington Heights DUI attorney, illinois medical cannabis, DUI arrest, legal medical marijuana, medical marijuanIn August 2013, Illinois followed Colorado and Washington to become the twentieth state to legalize the medical use of cannabis under its Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. Under this Act, medical marijuana is legal for registered users to treat symptoms of a statute-defined debilitating medical condition. Authorization of use includes the following qualifications:

  • User must be 18 years of age or older;
  • User must have written certification from an Illinois-licensed physician; and
  • User must be registered with the Department of Public Health.

With the passing of this Act, which went into effect January 1, 2014, there have been changes to DUI law. Prior to the Act, it was against the law for a person driving a motor vehicle to be under the influence of cannabis or have any trace of cannabis in the blood, breath or urine.

According to the Illinois State Bar Association, Illinois now legally allows registered users to operate a motor vehicle with cannabis in their systems, if they are not impaired. However, if a driver is pulled over and there is reasonable suspicion of impairment, a police officer can issue standardized field sobriety tests. Failure of the field tests or refusal to submit to testing results in a suspension of the person’s driver license, same as alcohol-related DUI offenders.

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