Illinois Police are “incredibly unprepared” to deal with marijuana DUI cases

From the State Journal-Register:

Illinois law-enforcement officials are “incredibly unprepared” for the potential upswing in impaired driving that could result from legalization of recreational use of marijuana.

That view of the impact of House Bill 1438 came from a Chicago-area police officer spearheading a pilot program to develop a roadside chemical test for marijuana.

Sgt. Brian Cluever, director of traffic safety at the Carol Stream Police Department, said technology to accurately check saliva for cannabis-related impairment and support driving-under-the-influence cases in courts is months and potentially years away in Illinois and other states.

And unlike alcohol, there’s no breath test for marijuana.

In addition, Cluever said it’s unclear how much it will cost and how long it will take to train more Illinois police officers on how to interview people and conduct field sobriety tests for marijuana. The field tests for pot are different from alcohol but still can be used to arrest and charge drivers with marijuana-related DUI.

Those various challenges will put police in a “tough spot,” Cluever said last week. “We won’t be ready by Jan. 1, 2020.”

But the saliva testing program that the Carol Stream Police Department began using in early 2018 for marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, opiates and other drugs has slowed because problems with the testing equipment prompted the department to change suppliers, Cluever said.

Testing with equipment from a new supplier began only this year, and the equipment isn’t sensitive enough detect the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, down to the legal limit in Illinois — 10 nanograms per milliliter in saliva, he said. The equipment is sensitive only to 40 nanograms, he said.

Illinois’ legal limit for THC in blood for drivers is 5 nanograms/ml.

A trial of saliva-testing equipment in Michigan could detect THC no lower than 25 nanograms/ml. A February report on the Michigan pilot program said results were encouraging but that more study was needed.

A 2017 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlighted the challenges facing law enforcement.

The report said surveys show there was a 48 percent increase in the prevalence of drivers testing positive for THC at any level from 2007 to 2013-14, with 8.6 percent positive in 2017 and 12.6 percent positive in 2013-14.

At the same time, the report said the percentage of drivers testing positive for alcohol at any level declined from 12.4 percent in 2007 to 8.3 percent in 2013-14.

The report pointed out that the driving risks posed by alcohol use have been well known for decades, while “relatively little” is known about the risks posed by marijuana and other drugs.

There’s evidence that marijuana “impairs psychomotor skills, divided attention, lane tracking and cognitive function,” but “its role in contributing to the occurrence of crashes remains less clear,” the report said.

Read the entire article here:  https://jg-tc.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/police-unprepared-for-pot-impaired-drivers-in-illinois-law-enforcement/article_00eecec7-319e-55f8-89b5-038655963b02.html

How the new Illinois Marijuana Legalization laws will affect you

Beginning January 1, 2020, you will be able to possess of up to 30 grams of cannabis, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate or 500 milligrams of THC without violating Illinois state law.

Under the law you will have to purchase your cannabis from approved dispensaries.  You cannot grow it on your own unless you are a medical marijuana cardholder, and even then, you will be limited to 5 plants.  You will not be able to legally purchase marijuana from a street dealer.

You also cannot use marijuana in public places.  You will have to use it at home, and even then, discretely.  You can’t sit on your porch where neighbors can see you toking.

The change will not effect our current DUI law, which still makes it a crime to drive while either impaired due to cannabis or with 5 nanograms or more of THC in one’s blood or 10 nanograms in any other bodily substance (i.e., urine or saliva).   This means that I suggest that you do not drive for several hours after using marijuana, probably not until the next day after a full night’s sleep.

Also, the change in the law does not mean that employers cannot still fire you for failing a drug test showing that you were positive for cannabis.  Illinois is an “at will” state, meaning that an employer can fire you “at will” for just about any reason (except when in violation of civil rights or contract).

Finally, this change only affects Illinois law.  You could still be arrested and charged by Federal officers.  This is most likely to happen while on Federal property, whether a Federal building such as a courthouse, post office, or other governmental building,  on Federal land or on the lake by the Coast Guard.

Here are some articles with further information about the new law:

Chicago Sun-Timeshttps://chicago.suntimes.com/cannabis/2019/5/31/18647868/marijuana-illinois-legalization-where-to-buy-amount

Chicago Tribunehttps://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-met-cb-legal-marijuana-illinois-20190531-story.html

Can an Illinois DUI get expunged? The answer to this question may soon change

Can an Illinois DUI get expunged?  The general answer is no, unless there was a finding of not guilty or it was otherwise dismissed.  A DUI sentence of supervision is not eligible for expungement.

This is one of the many situations where DUI offenses are treated differently than other similar offenses.  Most other misdemeanor offenses are expungeable.  Even some felonies, particularly drug offenses, are also eligible for expungement, because our legislature and courts are recognize the benefit of giving people a chance at a clean slate, and not penalizing people forever, especially over an addiction issue.

DUIs were barred from expungement during the “tough on crime” 1990s.  Over the past few years, the pendulum has been swinging back and I have been hopeful that Illinois would give some hope to past DUI offenders.

Now, it looks like it might.

The synopsis of HB 1634 and an amendment state as follows:

Amends the Criminal Identification Act. Provides that a person may petition for sealing or expungement for a violation of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or a similar provision of a local ordinance after a period of 10 years after the termination of the petitioner’s sentence if the petitioner has not been arrested for, or convicted of, a subsequent violation.

House Committee Amendment No. 1
Replaces everything after the enacting clause. Amends the Criminal Identification Act. Provides that the court may not order the sealing or expungement of the records of arrests or charges not initiated by arrest that result in an order of supervision for or conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, intoxicating compound or compounds or any combination thereof (DUI) under the Illinois Vehicle Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance; except that the court may order the sealing of one misdemeanor record of arrest or charge not initiated by arrest that results in an order of supervision for or conviction of DUI under the Illinois Vehicle Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance per petitioner if each of the following conditions have been met: (1) the petitioner has not previously been convicted of or placed on supervision for DUI under the Illinois Vehicle Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance; (2) 10 or more years have passed since the termination of the petitioner’s sentence; (3) during the commission of the violation, the petitioner did not proximately cause death or personal injury to any other person or damage the property of any other person and was not arrested for a violation of resisting or obstructing a peace officer; (4) during the arrest or stop of the petitioner by a law enforcement officer for commission of the violation, the petitioner submitted to a test under the Illinois Vehicle Code to determine whether the petitioner was driving under the influence when requested by a law enforcement officer; (5) the petitioner has no other misdemeanor or felony driving charge on his or her driving abstract; and (6) the judge examined the driving abstract of the petitioner petitioning to have his or her records sealed under this provision and made a finding entered on the record that the petitioner did not enter into a plea agreement on a lesser charge other than a DUI under the Illinois Vehicle Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance, and the facts did not support that the petitioner had previously committed a DUI under the Illinois Vehicle Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance.

I’ve been informed by a member of the Illinois State Bar Association that the Office of the Secretary of State opposes this bill.  Hopefully, an agreement can be reached so that a person who gets a DUI (often a young person in their 20’s) does not have to worry about it staying on his or her record for the rest of his or her life, costing employment and other opportunities.

IL enacts new laws on texting while driving and “dooring” bicyclists

From WQad8.com:

A new law in Illinois enhances the punishment for texting behind the wheel.

Starting in July 2019, drivers caught using cell phones while driving will not only get fined, but it will count as a moving violation that could lead to license suspension.

The new law signed this week by Gov. Bruce Rauner now makes the first ticket for texting and driving a moving offense. That means it goes on the offender’s record and can lead to a suspension if they commit two other violations in the next year.

And from the Chicago Tribune:

The new law, which goes into effect next July, makes the penalty $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second, $125 for a third and $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense. Under current law, drivers get a warning and no fine the first time.

Distracted driving has been cited as a factor in an increase in traffic deaths nationally over the last three years…

Another bill signed by the governor adds the “Dutch Reach” method of opening car doors to Illinois’ Rules of the Road manual and adds bike safety questions to the state driver’s license exam.

The Dutch Reach encourages drivers and passengers to use the hand farthest from the door to reach across the body to open the door after parallel parking. This prods people in motor vehicles to look back for cyclists and other traffic, and can help prevent sometimes-fatal “dooring” crashes, said the Active Transportation Alliance, a bike, pedestrian and transit user advocacy group. It is called the Dutch Reach because it is taught and used in the Netherlands.

lllinois Department of Transportation data shows dooring crashes on the rise across the state. In 2015, there were more than 300 reported in Chicago, a 50 percent increase from the previous year.

Illinois one of toughest states for speeding, reckless driving according to study

From WJBC.com:

Illinois’ police forces may not give out the most speeding tickets but when they do, state laws make them some of the most expensive in the nation.

A new report by financial service company WalletHub found that Illinois comes down the harder on speeders than nearly any other state but it has some of the harshest penalties in the nation. It was tied with three other states for eighth-strictest overall and fourth in terms of speeding enforcement, behind only Virginia, Arizona and New Mexico. It ranked fourth in the nation in terms of WalletHub’s “speeding enforcement” rankings. That’s based on threshold for an automatic reckless driving ticket, average hike in insurance premium after a ticket, and how much a speeding ticket counts toward a suspension.

WalletHub Analyst Jill Gonzalez said one ticket in Illinois gets a speeder much closer to a license suspension than other states.

“It has about 45 percent in terms of how much a speeding ticket counts toward a suspension,” she said. “Usually, a ticket is 15 percent counted toward a suspension.”

Illinois also ranked high on the list because of the long jail sentences and costly fines for reckless driving.

“Illinois has some of the highest days in jail after a first conviction at ten days and 20 for a second and the fines are some of the most expensive in the country as well,” Gonzalez said.

Read the full story here:  http://www.wjbc.com/2018/07/12/study-finds-illinois-doles-out-some-the-toughest-penalties-for-driving-offenses/

IL Drunk Driving Fatalities down 43% in the 20 yrs since legal limit was lowered

According to this story in the Morris Herald, drunk driving related fatalities have dropped from 534 to 300, a decrease of 43%, since Illinois lowered its legal limit from 0.10 BAC to 0.08.

What the story doesn’t mention, is that during those years, Illinois has also made a great many changes to its drunk driving laws, greatly increasing the penalties for repeat drunk driving and requiring ignition interlocks for even first time offenders.  In addition, local municipalities began to impound (and sometimes forfeit) vehicles used in drunk driving and driving while suspended or revoked due to DUI cases.  Oftentimes, the impoundment fee alone is equivalent to several months car payments.

In addition to that, in the interim 20 years, there have been many social changes that have probably contributed to this drop, such as an increased awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, a dramatic decrease in bars and drinking establishments, and a general increase in healthier lifestyles.

Having said that, I am sure that the drop to 0.08 made a significant difference.  It probably meant that many people passed on that extra drink or two that they might have had in 1996.  And that extra drink or two can make all the difference.

What do you think?

 

Illinois considering bill allowing 18 year olds to drink under parent’s supervision

House Bill 494, a bill pending in the Illinois legislature, would allow 18 to 21 year olds to drink beer or wine in the presence and supervision of a parent or guardian, including restaurants whose primary purpose is not the sale of alcohol.

According to Eater Chicago, 10 other states already allow this.  They are Connecticut, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

What do you think?