Every driver should know that driving while under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is against the law. However, many people do not actively consider that it is also against the law to drive under the influence of marijuana. Illinois law specifically makes it unlawful to drive under the influence of any intoxicating compound, drug, or combination of drugs “to a degree that renders the person incapable of driving safely.” Such drugs include marijuana.
A first time marijuana DUI is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois. The penalties you may face for marijuana DUI will depend on several factors, including the facts of your case, your level of intoxication, and your criminal convictions, especially any past DUI or drug-related convictions. Potential charges and penalties for marijuana DUI are as follows:
- 1st offense – Class A misdemeanor – up to 1 year in jail and fine of up to $2,500
- 2nd – Class A misdemeanor – 5 days to 1 year in jail and fine of up to $2,500
- 3rd/4th – Class 2 felony – 3-7 years in jail and fine of up to $25,000
- 5th – Class 1 felony – 4-15 years in jail and fine of up to $25,000
- 6th+ – Class X felony – 6-30 years in jail and fine of up to $25,000
As you can see, the penalties can sharply escalate with subsequent offenses, so you always want to avoid having even a first conviction on your record.
The penalties can become even more severe under certain circumstances, even for a first offense. For instance, you may be sentenced to an additional 6 months of jail time if you had a minor younger than 16 years of age in the car at the time of your arrest. Additionally, you can face aggravated penalties for marijuana DUI while driving a school bus, commercial vehicle, or while your license was suspended.
DUI with Marijuana vs. Alcohol
DUI cases involving alcohol are different than marijuana cases. For alcohol, there is a legal blood alcohol limit of 0.08%. This means that you could potentially have a drink and be under the legal limit. However, with marijuana, any discernible amount of THC in your urine or blood will be enough evidence for the prosecutor to establish that you were under the influence at the time.
The problem with this system is that THC can stay in a person’s system for days, weeks, or even months, depending on the frequency of marijuana use. Therefore, a person can test positive for marijuana when they have not used the drug in days. This means that even if you were not driving while under the influence at all, a prosecutor could still potentially present evidence that could convict you.
For this reason, you always want to make sure you have the assistance of a criminal defense attorney who has experience with marijuana DUI cases. An attorney will know how to investigate the circumstances of your arrest, identify whether your rights were violated, keep wrongfully obtained evidence out of court, and build an aggressive defense for you.
If you are facing marijuana DUI charges or any other type of DUI charge, do not hesitate to contact defense attorney Steven Goldman at Goldman & Associates for help today.