Potential Changes in Illinois DUI & Cannabis Laws

Pending legislation could change DUI and cannabis laws throughout the state of Illinois. HB 218 would decriminalize the possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana. While decriminalization prohibits any criminal penalties for the offense, the proposed bill would impose a maximum fine of $125. The same bill would change the DUI statute, 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(6) which currently provides that an individual may be charged with DUI for having a trace of marijuana in their system. This means that even if the driver smoked marijuana 30 days before the arrest, and there is no evidence of impairment, the driver may still be charged with DUI.

HB 218 would change the DUI statute to tie liability to cannabis impairment. Just as a .08 is per se impairment for alcohol-related DUIs, this bill would create per se impairment for cannabis DUIs. The bill would set the legal limit at 15 nanograms of active cannabis in the blood and 25 nanograms of cannabis in the saliva. This would be the highest legal limit in the United States. Both Washington and Colorado have 5 nanogram limits. HB218 has passed the house and is awaiting approval in the Senate. The Cook County Sherriff, the Illinois State Bar Associate, the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Association and the ACLU are among the vast amount of supporters of HB 218.

SB 753, which has stalled in committee, seeks to legalize the possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana as well as the cultivation of five cannabis sativa plants. These provisions would only apply to those over the age of 21.

Bill would decriminalize pot possession, tie DUI to impairment, May 19, 2015, www.isba.org

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