Medical marijuana is now allowed in Illinois under certain restrictions. So what does that mean if you are charged with DUI after taking that joint?

Unfortunately, the penalties for driving and smoking without a prescription can still be severe, even if the marijuana in your system is from weeks ago. Bear in mind that marijuana can linger in your system for 30 days or more.

Known as the Illinois trace law, you may be convicted of DUI if you have any unlawful substance in your system even if your driving was not impaired. The trace law makes it easy for prosecutors since they need not prove that the drugs influenced your driving. The fact the drug is in your system is enough to convict you of DUI. However, if you have a lawful prescription for a drug, the prosecution must still prove you were under the influence.

Recently, an Illinois Appellate court has held that the push to liberalize marijuana laws does not impact the trace law. People v Rennie. Marijuana is still illegal in Illinois, the court said, and even where marijuana is legal, you are barred from driving with it in your system.

If you are at fault in an accident and any trace of marijuana remains in your system, the penalties can be harsh whether or not you were under the influence. The sentence for aggravated DUI based on causing great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another is 1 to 12 years in prison.

If you are charged with a DUI, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to help you present the best possible defense. Did you cause the accident? Did police follow procedures in obtaining any blood tests? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected at the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

About mdkeenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 17 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU and the Illinois State Bar Association. I serve as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid. Se habla espanol.
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