Many states have changed their laws regarding marijuana use, whether medical, recreational or both. Illinois has not yet legalized cannabis, however, so you need to be aware of the current consequences of using it.
One of the effects marijuana has is weakening your psychomotor skills, which impairs your ability to drive. The extent of impairment depends on many factors, but regardless of your usage, you may face the same severe penalties as a traditional DUI.
Marijuana and motor vehicle accidents
Medicinal or recreational, legal or not, marijuana is a drug, and all drugs come with side effects. Although alcohol is the most common drug found in drivers who crash, marijuana comes in second, according to the the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
This is due to the intake of this substance resulting in physical and neurological changes:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Altered perception of time and speed
- Slower reaction time
- Problems with seeing and other sensory abilities
It does not take much cannabis to affect your body and mind. Combining alcohol and other drugs with marijuana makes these issues much worse, greatly raising the risk of you getting into a car accident.
Consequences of driving under the influence of marijuana
You do not have to cause an accident to face legal consequences. If a police officer pulls you over for impaired driving, you can receive the same penalties as if you had been driving drunk. Convicted first-time offenders can expect a maximum fine of $2500, up to a year in jail and the temporary or permanent loss of driving privileges. The penalties are far more severe for repeat offenders.
For this reason, if you face a DUI drug charge, you need the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer who has experience with these types of cases. An attorney may be able to reduce or eliminate the charges or get you alternative penalties, such as completing community service or a treatment program.