Did Legalizing Marijuana Just Make Your Commute More Dangerous?

Illinois joined the ranks of ten other states in America to allow recreational marijuana use as of January 1, 2020. With the new recreational law now in place, it is no wonder why there are lots of questions surrounding this change. For many residents of Illinois, questions loom about marijuana use and driving.

Here’s what you need to know about how marijuana should be used responsibly in regards to operating a vehicle.

Driving While Impaired

Just as you cannot (and should not) drive while intoxicated due to alcohol, drivers should also not drive under the influence of marijuana. While it is no longer illegal to have pot in the car, the driver should never smoke while driving or drive a vehicle while high.

Passengers are also held to the same standards, as they cannot smoke while in the car. Instead, they must carry marijuana in the childproof container it came in from the dispensary they purchased it from.

Measuring Impairment

While driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal, measuring it in the field or on the road can be tricky. If a police officer believes a driver is under the influence of marijuana, they will ask the driver to submit to field sobriety testing. This is similar to a traffic stop where the police officer believes the driver has been drinking.

However, there is not a Breathalyzer test for marijuana. While the driver can be asked to participate in chemical testing on the scene, it can be difficult to prove the driver is under the influence. Marijuana can stay in the blood system even when the driver is no longer impaired, which makes things tricky during traffic stops or accidents.

What’s Next?

There are currently research studies happening to find a reliable way to test drivers suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana. Until then, drivers should be extra careful to never drive while intoxicated and to store their cannabis properly while on the road.

If you have been in a vehicle accident where you believe the responsible party was under the influence of marijuana or other substances, call the team at O’Brien Law. We are ready to advocate for your best interests throughout the process as you get back on your feet and receive the compensation you deserve.