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Illinois Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession to an Extent

Some fairly wide-sweeping changes to marijuana law in Illinois will also bring big changes to how the state classifies "driving while impaired". The new laws were signed into effect in late July 2016 by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner a little more than a year after he disagreed with similar legislation. The move comes as a pleasant surprise to Democrats and a benefit to marijuana users.

Marijuana DUI Laws in Illinois

Before the new bills were signed into law, Illinois had a strict zero-tolerance policy regarding marijuana use and driving. If a motorist was found to have any THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in their bloodstream or saliva while they were behind the wheel, they could be arrested for a DUI and have their driver's license suspended. For years, marijuana law activists argued that zero-tolerance was too strict and ignored scientific evidence; in particular, it has been found that THC can stay in a person's system for days after use and can be detected through tested even when there is no longer an impairment felt by the user.

With these recent changes, Illinois has put a THC threshold that should impact people who have used marijuana within the last several hours before driving. DUI arrests can be issued when a driver has 5 or more nanograms of THC found in their blood, or 10 or more nanograms of THC detected in their saliva.

Clearing Up the Court System

Illinois's courts are routinely packed with minor offenses, including marijuana possession crimes. The end result is cases that involve serious crimes waiting and waiting for processing. To try to unclog the courts, Rauner's approved changes have also decriminalized marijuana possession in most cases. A person who is found with 10 or less grams of marijuana for personal use – i.e. no intent to distribute it – can be given a citation or infraction that results in up to $200 in fines but no jail time or criminal record. Police will also be given the chance to decide to use an arrest or a citation for offenders with 10 to 15 grams of marijuana in their possession.

If you have lost your license due to a marijuana-related DUI arrest, contact our Illinois driver's license reinstatement attorneys from Johnson Law Group today. We have more than 100 years of combined experience spent either fighting to get someone their license fully reinstated or issued a hardship license. Call us at (309) 565-8825 for a free consultation.