Illinois became the 21st state to decriminalize small amounts (10 grams or less) of marijuana on July 29 when Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 2228. The new law states that a policeman or other law people statewide will no longer arrest or jail a person with that amount or less. They will issue tickets for a fine between $100 and $200, which will subsequently be expunged after payment of the fine. Nothing goes on your permanent criminal record.
This is of course good news for casual users who need to keep a clean record for work. It’s also good news for the Illinois legal system and its overcrowded country and state prisons, removing a variety of minor infractions.
Change in DUI laws
This new law also affects marijuana-related DUI’s. Before the new law, drivers need only have a trace in their system to face misdemeanor charges. This meant that you could have smoked two weeks ago and be taken in because you still test positive, causing a huge disruption to your life and possible job loss.
The new beefed-up law states that drivers are subject to charges if they have five or more nanograms of THC in their blood, or 10 nanograms in their saliva. Like alcohol, these levels are based on the potency of marijuana as well as the size of the consumer. That said a “mellow buzz” is still well above these new levels. With these changes now in effect, it’s a smart idea to wait a few hours after smoking to drive.
DUI drug testing
If you do get pulled over, it’s good to remember that the testing law enforcement uses is in its infancy. According is a new study, there have been advances in tests’ accuracy, but points out that oral testing is still unreliable. To date there is still no reliable point-of-care testing, so be mindful of what you say to the officer.
If you get arrested for possession, intent to sell or DUI, its best to work with a lawyer who is up-to-date on these changes to the law. If your arrest involved a small amount of marijuana, chances are better than ever that the case could be dismissed or the sentence reduced to little or no jail time.