Legal Marijuana and DUIs in Illinois: What You Need To Know Before Driving


As of January 1, Illinois legalized recreational cannabis. This has left many wondering what this means for getting behind the wheel of a car after consuming weed.

What's The Law?

Illinois set a limit for the amount of THC you are allowed to have in your blood when driving: 5 nanograms. Illinois followed suit of Colorado and California who have the same limit. Before this change, it was illegal to have “any amount” of cannabis in your system. Luckily that is gone and now we are faced with a 5 ng limit. There is not a lot of scientific basis for this limit to mean a person is per se impaired by the cannabis, but this was the limit set by many states.

How Do They Prove It?

If a police officer suspects you are under the influence of cannabis, the officer will request to take blood in order to determine if you are above the 5 ng limit. Things the officer will consider before asking to take your blood are: was there bad driving, an odor of marijuana, evidence of marijuana like a pipe or seeing residue, pupil size, motor skills and possibly how you do on field sobriety tests.

How Much Cannabis Can I Consume To Reach The 5 ng Limit?

This is the maddening part about marijuana. There’s no hard and fast answer.

First, did you smoke it or eat it? If you smoke it, the effects and absorption into your body will be almost immediate. Some research has found one puff could be enough to get you over the limit. 4 puffs could put you at 100 NG. But the high and the nanograms in your system will start to dissipate quickly after the ingestion.

If you eat it, it can take hours for you to fully feel the effects and absorb the THC because it’s being absorbed through your stomach rather than your lungs.

Other factors include 1) how potent is the marijuana you consumed? 2) How fast did you inhale? 3) How soon did you exhale? 4) Do you use marijuana a lot or a little? 5) How big of a serving did you eat?

Other Issues

The smart thing to do is to make sure you’ve waited an appropriate amount of time after ingesting cannabis before getting behind the wheel. However, studies have shown that there isn’t a correlation to how high a person actually is compared to how high they feel. You might feel high and yet have a low amount in your system, and vice versa. However, there is no dispute that driving right after consuming weed is never the right decision.

If you have been arrested on DUI charges in Illinois, do not take it lightly. Get in touch with the Toney Law Firm at your earliest convenience. Our team can help protect your rights today (888) 473-4058.

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