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Possession of cannabis inside a car is a punishable crime

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2023 | Criminal Defense, DUI

Drivers normally face driving under the influence (DUI) charges for operating a vehicle while drunk on alcohol. But officers can also hand out DUIs to drivers under the effect of any intoxicating drug or substance, such as cannabis.

By Illinois law, it’s illegal for a driver to operate a motor vehicle while they have at least five nanograms of cannabis’ psychoactive ingredient per milliliter of blood. Illinois might have legalized medical and recreational cannabis, but it still has risks. Cannabis, also known as marijuana, can impair users’ reaction time and ability to make decisions, which raises their risk of causing an accident while driving.

Not only can a driver face DUI charges for having marijuana in their system, but an officer can also cite them for possessing cannabis while driving.

Rules on marijuana possession in a vehicle

According to state law, no driver or passenger may use cannabis in any motor vehicle on an Illinois highway. The rule applies even if the driver moved to the passenger area of their vehicle. Drivers and passengers are also prohibited from possessing the substance on a state highway unless the marijuana is secured and sealed in a container.

A violation of this rule leads to a Class A misdemeanor. On conviction, the person faces up to 364 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.

Restriction even for medical cannabis

Not even medical cannabis cardholders are exempt from Illinois’ ban on marijuana possession and use while inside a motor vehicle. The prohibition also extends to medical cannabis designated caregivers, cultivation center agents, or dispensing agents. Medical or otherwise, it’s against the law to use or possess cannabis inside a vehicle unless it’s in a sealed container.

Anyone who violates the prohibition on using medical cannabis inside a vehicle will face a Class A misdemeanor charge. On conviction, not only does a person have to serve jail time and pay a fine, but their medical cannabis card will be subject to revocation for two years from the end of the jail sentence. For caregivers or medical marijuana business agents, their status as a licensed caregiver/agent will also be subject to revocation for two years.

A Class A misdemeanor might not sound like much of a crime, but it’s still an offense that remains on a person’s criminal record. Those who face charges for DUI cannabis and possession should consider consulting with a legal professional to understand their options in court.