Blogs | Law Office of Jack L Zaremba


Illinois Bank Cutting Ties With Medical Marijuana Industry

Joliet Drug lawyer

The landscape of the medical marijuana industry in Illinois could soon be changing as a major player has announced that it will be getting out of the game by next month. The announcement comes in the wake of indications by the Trump administration that it will be ending Obama-era leniency on the federal prosecution of marijuana as an illegal drug .

Bank of Springfield recently notified its customers in the marijuana industry that their accounts with the bank will be closed on May 21. According to reports, the financial institution is the “main bank serving Illinois medical marijuana companies,” which include cultivation centers and dispensaries. Bank of Springfield is not the only institution serving the medical cannabis industry, but its customers say other banks charge up to six-figure annual fees for marijuana-related accounts. Most companies simply cannot afford the added expense.

Restarting the War on Marijuana?

A spokesman for Bank of Springfield told news outlets that the uncertain legality of medical marijuana has become problematic in recent months. “The bank will not jeopardize any of their customers by working with businesses that operate the legal gray area,” the spokesman said.

The uncertainty stems largely from a memo issued by U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions earlier this year . The memo rescinded previous directions given by the Obama administration starting in 2009. The Obama-era memo clarified that using federal resources to crack down on state-legalized medical marijuana was deemed inefficient. Subsequent Justice Department directives afforded states the freedom to create their own regulatory systems to address threats created by the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Attorney General Sessions’ memo, however, did not clarify the Justice Department’s approach to marijuana enforcement, claiming that specific guidance was not necessary. The memo simply reiterated that Congress has determined that marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance “and that marijuana activity is a serious crime.”

A Wake-Up Call for Banks

The Obama administration’s guidance on marijuana provided protection for banks that kept in careful compliance with state and federal laws. With that protection now gone, financial institutions are understandably concerned that they could be seen as dealing in drug money.

Many cultivation centers and dispensaries with no other banking options are shifting to a cash-only model. Unfortunately, doing so creates additional security concerns and logistical complications, especially regarding tax reporting and large purchases. “At the end of the day,” said one dispensary owner, “the bank is protecting themselves, and it just makes it tougher for all of us.”

Drug Crimes Defense Attorney

It is difficult to say for sure how the new Justice Department approach to marijuana will affect the average citizen, but the situation has certainly become more complex. If you or someone you love is facing drug-related charges, contact an experienced Will County criminal defense lawyer for help right away. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.

The Debate Over Making .05 the New Standard for DUI in Illinois

Joliet DUI lawyer

Should Illinois follow the recommendation of national safety experts to change the legal definition of drunk driving from a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent to .05 percent? This topic will be argued in many forums over the next few years.

How Fast Is the National Drive Toward .05 Moving?

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) first recommended reducing the legal blood-alcohol limit to .05 in 2013. A January 2018 report sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) now strongly supports this change.

As of April 2018, only Utah has enacted the .05 standard, effective at the end of 2018. Other states such as Delaware, Hawaii, and Washington are considering it.

For perspective, it took 13 years from the time the national safety agencies first recommended the shift from .10 to .08 in 1992 until the last state adopted it in 2005. Illinois made the change to .08 in 1997, five years after the initial recommendation.

What Is the Rationale for a .05 BAC Limit?

The 2018 NHTSA report cites numerous studies published since 2000, many done using driving simulators, that all agree: at .05 BAC, drivers show definite signs of impairment and the risk of serious injuries and fatalities was far higher than at .00 BAC. The NHTSA further argues that a .05 limit has been shown to be an effective policy for reducing alcohol-impaired driving injuries and fatalities in other developed countries , listing Australia, France, Germany, and Italy as examples.

Is There Much Support for .05 in Illinois?

So far, there has not been much , if any, support for the .05 standard in Illinois. But that could easily change in a few years, if more states pass “.05 is DUI” laws or if the federal government threatens to withhold highway funds, as happened in 2000, to pressure states to enact .08 laws.

Opposition to .05 comes from a number of angles. Some question whether the body of research is strong enough yet to mandate this change, knowing that once a law like this is passed, it is not easy to reverse. Others reasonably question how much safer the roads would really become, relative to the cost to the public. Some would argue that driving at a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05 is probably no worse than someone who drives while sleepy or angry. Others fear that they could be arrested over a glass or two of wine at supper.

It must be noted, though, that Illinois law already recognizes the potential for driver impairment at a BAC below .08. As the law currently stands, a driver can be charged and convicted of driving under the influence with a BAC over .05 but less than .08 when there is additional evidence of impairment, such as failure of standardized field sobriety tests.

All things considered, Illinois seems unlikely to change its “per se” DUI standard from .08 to .05 BAC in the next two or three years. But if enough states jump on the .05 bandwagon, along with influential public-interest lobbies, Illinois may well follow.

Trust an Experienced Joliet DUI Defense Attorney

If arrested for DUI, consult a knowledgeable Will County DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, we will examine all the details of your case and fight aggressively to get you the best possible outcome. Call our office at 815-740-4025; we answer calls 24 hours a day.

The Long-Term Impact of Illinois DUI Laws: .10 to .08, and soon .05?

Joliet DUI lawyer

In 1997, Illinois reduced the legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers from .10 to .08, the standard now used by all 50 states. Today, 20 years later, lawmakers are thinking about further reducing the legal blood-alcohol limit from .08 to .05.

If you are wondering why, you are not alone. It is perfectly reasonable to ask questions like how much safer did the roads really get after the change from .10 to .08, relative to the cost to society of law enforcement and the severe penalties paid by people convicted of DUI? How strong is the rationale for further reducing the legal limit to .05?

In this post, we will look at how the change from .10 to .08 impacted DUI arrests and fatalities in Illinois over the past 20 years. In a separate post, we will look deeper into the debate over the .05 standard.

Deaths in Alcohol-Impaired Crashes Have Declined in Illinois

The Illinois law reducing the legal blood-alcohol level from .10 to .08 took effect July 2, 1997. The year before it took effect, 534 people died in Illinois car crashes involving at least one driver who was at or over the 0.08 level. In 2016, 272 people died in alcohol-related crashes in Illinois . Thus, the annual number of drunk driving deaths in Illinois has been cut in half, resulting in 262 fewer deaths. This may not be entirely attributable to the .08 change, though. Other factors have likely played a role, such as the 2000 law requiring drivers found guilty of DUI to have blow-to-drive devices installed in their vehicles.

DUI Arrests Have Declined in Illinois

Arrests for driving under the influence have declined significantly over the past decade, according to the Illinois Secretary of State. From 2010 to 2016, the number of arrests dropped by 12,371, from 41,900 to 29,528 arrests, a decrease of 30 percent. The decline in arrests could be partly due to law enforcement cuts; the number of Illinois State Police troopers, for example, declined from 2,105 in 2008 to 1,671 in 2016. But the decline can also be attributed to increased public awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, along with increasingly severe legal and financial penalties.

The bottom line, as evidenced by the reduction in both arrests and fatalities, is that Illinois drivers do seem to have cut back on drinking and driving since the .08 law passed.

Trust an Experienced Joliet DUI Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI, the first thing you should know is, there are many ways to beat a DUI charge and to fight the suspension of your driver’s license. To determine your best defense strategy, consult a knowledgeable Will County DUI Defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation; phone calls are answered 24 hours a day.


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