As is the case in many states across the country, Illinois is modernizing its approach to the recreational use of marijuana. While this change has been long-coming, it is important to consider the unintended consequences that may come with this change.
One potential side-effect of recreational marijuana is the expansion of drug-related DUI prosecutions. And according to a spokesman for the Chicago police, law enforcement is “incredibly unprepared” to deal with any upswing in drivers impaired by marijuana. Unfortunately, the lack of preparedness among law enforcement could lead to a dramatic increase in the wrongful arrest of drivers under suspicion of DUI drugs in Chicago.
Illinois DUI Drugs Law
While the law surrounding the recreational use of marijuana in Illinois is changing, it remains unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by the substance. However, law enforcement often lacks the resources to determine if a driver is impaired by marijuana or not. Unlike with alcohol, there is no roadside chemical test that can accurately reflect if a driver has used marijuana recently. And given how long pot can remain in your system, blood testing is not an accurate indicator of whether or not you were impaired while behind the wheel.
In some cases, you may test positive for marijuana weeks after the psychoactive effects of the drug have worn off. Because of this, blood tests reflecting marijuana use are not strong evidence of intoxicated driving.
And while there are field sobriety tests intended to identify drivers impaired by controlled substances, these unique tests have their own problems.
Drug Recognition Experts
Standard field sobriety, which tests a driver's balance and other physical reactions for signs of alcohol intoxication, is not useful in a DUI drugs case. Every controlled substance has different effects, and these standard field sobriety tests are ill-equipped to identify impairment from many drugs, including marijuana.
There is a specialized training regimen for identifying drug intoxication. This process may only be completed by trained drug recognition experts (DRE). The DRE process is also riddled with problems, however, with some courts considering it junk science. The DRE process involves a number of recorded observations of a person suspected of drug intoxication, including divided attention tests, blood pressure readings, and other physical exams.
Ultimately, a DRE will compile all of the information collected during the examination and render an opinion on whether or not the person is intoxicated. And therein lies the real problem – the result of a DRE “test” is nothing more than an unscientific opinion based on limited information. That lack of reliability in the testing is why many defendants are able to fight their DUI charges and win.
How a Chicago DUI Attorney Can Help
ems law enforcement has with identifying a driver intoxicated by marijuana, police will not hesitate based on arresting a driver for DUI based on nothing more than a hunch. Thankfully, DUI drugs cases are defensible, and the right attorney will be able to poke holes in the prosecution's case.