Governor Amends Lawmakers’ Proposal on Marijuana DUI Limits
A few weeks ago, a post on this blog discussed a bill that would have created the created the state’s first quantitative standard for driving under the influence of marijuana . The measure had been approved passed with bipartisan support by the Illinois House and Senate and was sent to the desk of Governor Bruce Rauner for his signature. The governor, however, found the proposed limits to be too permissive and returned the bill to the legislature with a proposal of his own, exercising his amendatory veto power.
Zero-Tolerance and Initial Proposal
Under the existing laws in Illinois, a driver could face charges for DUI if any trace of marijuana is found in his or her system. This presents several problems, proponents for change contend. First, efforts are underway around the country and in Illinois to decriminalize marijuana possession, with some starts having already legalized recreational use. Thus, a zero-tolerance policy for presence of a substance, the use of which may or may not have been illegal, does not seem to make sense when impairment is not a factor. The other main concern is that it takes a significant amount of time for all traces of marijuana to be fully metabolized or expelled from the body. In fact, some remnants can remain in a person’s system for several weeks, long after its impairment effects have worn off. Critics of the current law maintain that a DUI arrest today based marijuana use last week—which may have been legal if the driver visited another state—is simply unjust.
The law sent to the governor contained a quantifiable standard for impairment, similar to the state’s limits on blood alcohol content, or BAC. Lawmakers proposed a limit of 15 nanograms of THC—the psychoactive component of marijuana—per milliliter of blood. If it had been passed, the law would have established the highest such limit in the country.
Governor Rauner agreed with many around the state who believed that such a standard was simply too lenient. As a result, the Republican governor sent the bill back with a new proposed limit of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter. Supporters see the amendment as in line with trends across the country, as a 5 nanogram limit is currently the enforcement standard in Washington and Colorado, the two states which legally permit recreational marijuana use.
While the state legislature considers the governor’s amendment, it is important to remember that driving under the influence of marijuana or any other controlled substance can result in serious criminal penalties. If you have been charged with DUI, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Joliet today. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free consultation at the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba.