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

Cleveland Cavalier Shumpert arrested for Marijuana DUI

From TMZ:

Cleveland Cavs star Iman Shumpert was arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana back in August … TMZ Sports has learned.

According to the police report, Shumpert was pulled over outside of Atlanta on August 10th around 11:37 PM for a lane change violation and because his taillights weren’t on in his rented Audi A3.

During the stop, the officer says Shumpert reeked of weed — and his eyes were bloodshot.

Shumpert told the cop he had just come from his “homegirl’s house” and was going to pick up his father from the airport.

The cop administered a field sobriety test and determined Shumpert was high. Shumpert also admitted he had smoked weed before leaving his friend’s house.

Cops searched the car and found a mason jar with marijuana.

Cops wanted to perform a blood test on Shumpert but he refused — claiming, “people would recognize him and it would cause a scene.”

Shumpert was handcuffed and arrested for DUI marijuana and possession of weed (less than an ounce). He was also cited for failure to maintain his lane.

The Cavs issued a statement saying they have discussed the situation with Iman and “will monitor the progression of the pending case.”

 

Marijuana decriminalization bill signed by Gov, ends “Zero Tolerance” Pot DUI law

Governor Rauner signed into law SB 92228, which makes possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a fine only offense, and sets a new legal limit for operating under the influence of cannabis, replacing a zero tolerance standard and replacing it with a new “legal limit” of 5 nanograms of THC per mililiter of whole blood (or 10 nanograms in saliva or other bodily substance).

Not affected by this change is the previous law that also made it a DUI offense to drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of cannabis.

The fine for marijuana possession under 10 grams will be a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $200.  Anyone cited for possession of marijuana paraphernalia at the same time will only be subject to a fine in a similar amount.

Since possession of marijuana under 10 grams is now a civil violation instead of a criminal offense, the legislature was able to ease the prosecution’s burden of proof.  A crime lab testing showing that the substance was tested and proven to be marijuana is no longer required; the prosecution can establish its case either through opinion testimony by the arresting officer (with the proper foundation) or use of a properly conducted field test.

Under the new law, anyone fined for possession of marijuana in an amount less than 10 grams will have their citation automatically expunged, if they have paid their fine and completed their sentence.  The Clerk is to expunge these cases twice a year, on or before January 1 and July 1.

 

Amended bill setting “legal limit” for marijuana DUIs sent to Governor

Last August, Governor Rauner vetoed a bill which would have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana and replaced Illinois’ “zero tolerance” cannabis DUI law with a “legal limit” of 15 nanograms of THC per milliliter of whole blood. At the time, the Governor stated that he recommended a limit of 5 nanograms, the standard adopted by Colorado.

The State legislature has now passed a new bill which incorporates the Governor’s objections to last year’s bill.

From the Chicago Tribune:

House lawmakers sent Gov. Bruce Rauner legislation on Wednesday to decriminalize marijuana across Illinois, meaning people caught with small amounts of marijuana would be fined instead of receiving jail time.

The legislation incorporates changes the Republican governor suggested when he used his amendatory veto powers to rewrite similar legislation last year. Rauner said the old version would have let people carry too much marijuana and set fines too low.

The new edition drops the number of grams allowed from 15 to 10 and raises the range of fines from $55 to $125 to between $100 and $200. Municipalities could add to the fines and implement other penalties, such as a requirement for drug treatment. Citations would be automatically expunged twice a year, on Jan. 1 and July 1.

Under current Illinois law, possession of up to 10 grams is a class B misdemeanor that could result in up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,500…

The bill also would loosen the state’s zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence. As it stands, a driver can be charged if any trace of marijuana is detected, even if it was ingested weeks before and the driver shows no signs of impairment. Under the newest proposal, drivers would not be charged with a DUI unless they have 5 nanograms or more of THC in their blood, or 10 nanograms or more of THC in their saliva.

New study raises problems in setting “legal limit” for marijuana DUIs

From the Chicago Tribune (story by Mary Wisniewski):

Legal blood limits for marijuana are not an accurate way to measure whether someone was driving while impaired, and can lead to unsafe drivers going free while others are wrongfully convicted, according to a new study.

The study released Tuesday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers can have a low level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in their blood and be unsafe behind the wheel, while others with relatively high levels may not be a hazard.

Marijuana is not metabolized in the system in the same way as alcohol. So while a person with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or higher is considered too drunk to drive, it’s not possible to say the same thing absent other evidence about a person testing at 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood of THC — the level used to find impairment by Colorado, Montana and Washington, the study found.

The difference matters, because Illinois and 11 other states have laws that forbid any level of marijuana in the system while driving. A pot decriminalization bill being considered in the Illinois legislature would raise the level to 5 ng/ml. The bill faces opposition from law enforcement and anti-pot advocates.

Efforts to legally measure marijuana impairment have become a major concern for lawmakers as more states move to legalize cannabis, either for medical use or adult recreational use. Four states have legalized pot for recreational use by adults, and 24 states — including Illinois, plus Washington, D.C. — allow medical use, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a D.C.-based advocacy group.

“It’s an attempt to try to do an apples-to-apples comparison with blood alcohol concentration,” said Chris Lindsey, senior legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. He noted that the AAA findings echo earlier research. “They found out that these things can’t really be compared.”

Another problem is that high THC levels may drop before a test is administered, because the average time to collect blood from a suspect driver is often two hours, the AAA study found. Frequent pot users can exhibit high levels of the drug long after use, while levels can decline rapidly among occasional users, so it is difficult to develop fair guidelines, the study found.

Because of the problem in measuring whether someone is impaired with a blood test, AAA urged states to also look at behavioral and physiological evidence through field sobriety tests, such as seeing whether a driver has bloodshot eyes or is able to stand on one leg.

“That kind of testing has proved effective in court,” said J.T. Griffin, chief government affairs officer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD.

He pointed to a 2015 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that found no big crash risk associated with people driving with marijuana in their system but says more study is needed. Alcohol remains the biggest drug problem on the highways, he said.

Read the full story here:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-marijuana-driving-study-aaa-20160509-story.html

Making it easy: Woman arrested for smoking pot outside police station

…while illegally parked in an officer’s car!

From the Chicago Tribune:

In what Riverside police are calling “probably the easiest cannabis arrest” they’ve ever made, a Chicago woman has been accused of smoking pot in her car outside the police station in a parking space reserved for squad cars.

According to a news release from the Riverside Police Department, Elizabeth Klebba, 21, on Monday was parked in a spot marked “police unit parking only” outside the station at 31 Riverside Road. She was waiting for a friend who on Saturday had been charged with DUI and who was attempting to retrieve her impounded vehicle.

When an officer approached the 2002 Toyota, Klebba was in the driver’s seat, the passenger window was open and the officer “could smell a very strong odor of cannabis coming from inside the vehicle,” according to the news release.

When Klebba exited her vehicle, she was asked if there was marijuana inside and replied there was, police said. The officer recovered a container with a substance that tested positive for marijuana, and two items used for smoking marijuana, both of which contained the substance, police said.

Klebba, of the 5900 block of South Karlov Avenue in Chicago, was cited under village ordinances for possession of cannabis, possession of drug paraphernalia and also for improper parking.

“To think that an individual would come into the police parking lot, park in a spot that was posted as ‘police unit parking only’ and then openly smoke cannabis is simply absurd,” Riverside police Chief Thomas Weitzel said.

“The smoking of cannabis and cannabis possession has become so commonplace in America today that individuals don’t give it a second thought as to where and when they smoke it — not even if it is in a police station parking lot,” he said.

Actually, Ms. Klebba got off easy.  Under Illinois law, she could have been charged with driving under the influence, because a) she was in “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle by sitting behind the wheel of her car and b) arguably had “any amount” of cannabis in her blood, breath or urine.  625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(6). It is a sign of the times that this “zero tolerance” DUI law has been looked at with disfavor and is not consistently applied anymore.