I have written before about how Illinois has a “zero tolerance” law regarding driving with any amount of a narcotic in your system. This means that if you smoke some marijuana, then a week later you are involved in a fatal accident, you can go to prison — even if the accident wasn’t your fault. Just like Alia Bernard.
In response to one of my blog posts, I received a message from someone who was convicted for driving two days after he smoked marijuana. I thought it was worth re-posting in its own blog post. Here is his story:
I was recently convicted in St.Clair County of an Aggravated DUI Under the Cannabis Act stemming from a car accident that happened last year and sentenced to 18 months DOC. The officer that arrived on scene said because I was incoherent and had slurred speech and a thick tongue that I must be on drugs because there was no scent of alcohol. I was incoherent as a matter of fact I do not remember anything because of the severe injuries I had such as; a shattered hand (to the point there was a bone sticking out), bleeding on the brain, fractured cheek bone, broken ribs and a shattered ankle, so I was out of it from injuries. I was flown in a helicopter to SLU in Missouri so yes it is safe to say I was indeed incoherent when the officer arrived who wouldn’t be? I had went to a birthday party two days prior to the accident and had smoked marijuana. I never imagined I would be going to prison for having pot in my system while rapists and repeat offenders just get a slap on the hand. I plead not guilty and chose a jury trial. I was never allowed my day in court so to speak the state said it is a strict liability offense and they did not have to prove anything except I was driving and I had marijuana in my system. This law needs to be changed this is America and I have the right to a defense in a court of law at least I thought so anyway. I was not allowed to have any witnesses or evidence to show that I was not under the influence the day of the accident. In the past year I quit smoking and found out it takes 45 days to leave my system and I am a small person at 5’5 and 120 pounds. My life has been forever changed because I smoked marijuana and a few days later drove. I am lucky they are allowing me to finish my school semester before I have to surrender myself to go to DOC for about four and a half months. I am 32 years old no criminal record and now I am a felon and can kiss my career goodbye that I have been going to college and working so hard to achieve. This law is bogus and needs to be fixed because even though marijuana stays in your system for a long period of time you are not “high” the whole time only a couple of hours. Quit destroying peoples lives and wasting tax payer money to punish someone for smoking pot. Legalize, educate and tax it, help our state with some of our huge debt we have here in Illinois!
Now that the Illinois House has voted to allow medical marijuana, there is also talk of amending the DUI laws to create a “legal limit” of cannabis in one’s blood system that would create a presumption of impairment similar to the 0.08 blood alcohol law.
What do you think?