Medical Cannabis and the Risk of DUI Charges

Oct 31, 2023 | DUI Law, Uncategorized | 0 comments

If I Have a Medical Cannabis Card in Illinois, How Does It Affect DUI Charges? 

Since Illinois legalized medical cannabis in 2013, and subsequently recreational use in 2020, many residents have questions about the intersection of cannabis consumption and driving laws. Specifically, does having a medical cannabis card exempt them from Illinois’ DUI laws?

Medical vs. Recreational Cannabis: The DUI Distinction

While it’s legal in Illinois for qualified patients to consume cannabis for medical purposes, and for adults over 21 to purchase and consume recreational cannabis, it remains illegal for anyone to drive under the influence of this drug.

Holding a medical cannabis card does not grant immunity from DUI laws. However, there’s a notable distinction when it comes to the amount of THC (the main psychoactive compound in cannabis) in one’s system. While any detectable amount could be grounds for a DUI for recreational users, medical cannabis cardholders are only prohibited from driving if they are actually impaired by the cannabis. The challenge is that THC levels do not always correlate directly with impairment, making these cases more legally complex.

Woman driving car with focused expression, representing the seriousness of understanding DUI charges related to medical cannabis use.

How Police Determine Cannabis Intoxication

Unlike alcohol, where breathalyzer tests can quickly ascertain blood alcohol concentration (BAC), detecting cannabis intoxication is more nuanced. Officers in Illinois are trained to recognize signs of cannabis impairment, including:

  • Slowed reaction times
  • Poor coordination
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Distorted perception of time and distance

Although there isn’t a widely accepted roadside test for THC, if an officer suspects cannabis intoxication, they might request a blood or urine sample. It’s essential to be familiar with Illinois’ consent laws in such situations.

What to Do If You’re Pulled Over Suspected of Intoxication

  • Stay Calm and Respectful: Always cooperate and address the officer professionally.
  • Know Your Rights: You have the right to remain silent. While you should provide necessary documentation, you can decline to answer potentially incriminating questions.
  • Field Sobriety Tests: In Illinois, you can refuse field sobriety tests, though this decision might have repercussions.
  • Legal Representation: If facing charges, contact an attorney immediately. Experienced professionals like Courtney Anderson can offer vital assistance.

Navigating the nuances of medical and recreational cannabis in Illinois, especially concerning DUI laws, requires awareness and responsibility. While consumption is permitted, impaired driving is not. Stay informed and always prioritize safety.

Need more information or legal guidance? Courtney Anderson is committed to supporting you during any legal challenges.