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Many Americans are unconcerned about driving while high

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2019 | DUI Defense

Nearly 70% of Americans surveyed don’t believe they will be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, according to a study by the AAA Traffic Safety Foundation. The report says 14.8 million drivers responding to the survey said they got behind the wheel within an hour of using marijuana.

Illinois became the 11th state to approve the recreational use of cannabis in June and sales will be legal starting January 1, 2020, for people over the age of 21. Under the law, adults can buy up to 30 grams of pot, edibles totaling less than 500mg of THC and five grams of cannabis concentrates.

Law enforcement prepares for pot legalization

The Illinois Sheriff’s Association has long expressed concerns over the lack of roadside testing available to determine whether a driver is or has been high. There are no reliable roadside tests, such as a Breathalyzer, to determine whether someone is under the influence. A blood test can detect the presence of THC in the bloodstream, and more than five nanograms is considered illegal in Illinois.

The Illinois State Police says an officer who has probable cause to believe that a person is under the influence of any intoxicating substance, such as marijuana, shall request a chemical test done under the supervision of the arresting officer.

Driving high puts others at risk

Medical experts say impairment after using marijuana is usually worse within one to four hours after taking the drug. AAA says high drivers are up to twice as likely to be involved in a crash because a driver’s reaction time and judgment are affected.

However, drivers who participated in the survey say they don’t consider driving high to be as risky as driving drunk, or distracted driving, such as talking on the phone or texting. The survey’s other findings include:

  • 14% of millennials are most likely to report driving within one hour of using marijuana, while Generation Z comes in second at 10%
  • Men are more likely than women to report driving shortly after using marijuana

Seek legal advice if arrested for driving under the influence

A DUI conviction can have severe consequences for years leading to costly fines, jail time, driving restrictions and insurance rates that are doubled, or tripled in some cases. If you are arrested, an experienced defense attorney here in Illinois will protect your rights, including whether an officer had probable cause to stop you and make sure all field and chemical sobriety tests are correctly performed.