Being High Isn’t Required for DUI

If you are a pot smoker, you might think twice before you drive in Illinois. This is because it is illegal for a person to drive if “there is any amount of a drug, substance, or compound in the person’s breath, blood, or urine resulting from the unlawful use or consumption of cannabis . . . .” 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(6).   Furthermore, a person can fail a drug screen for weeks after smoking pot.  According to WebMD, “Light users — those who smoke a joint once in a while — will have a negative drug screen after a marijuana-free week. Heavy users — sometimes called ‘stoners’ — may continue testing positive for a month after their last bong hit.”

This post is not merely an academic exercise. Non-high people are frequently arrested on DUI charges. For example, here is one way I have seen this happen. Let’s suppose a cop stops a car for speeding. When the cop approaches the vehicle, he notices that the driver has bloodshot eyes. The driver hasn’t smoked cannabis for two days. The suspicious officer asks for permission to search the person’s car. The person tells the cop it is OK for the cop to search the car. The cop discovers a joint or small flecks of marijuana on the floorboard of the car. The cop then asks the person when the last time he smoked pot was. The person tells the cop it was two days ago. The next thing you know, the person is at the hospital getting his blood drawn.

It may (or may not) upset you that a stoner might be breaking the law by driving three weeks after smoking a joint, however, that is the law. Please don’t shoot the messenger.

Jeremy Richey

Jeremy J. Richey, Attorney at Law
© Jeremy J. Richey and The East Central Illinois Criminal Law & DUI Weblog, 2008-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.