An Illinois Medical Marijuana Card Is Not a License to Drive High

September 15, 2022 | David Abels
An Illinois Medical Marijuana Card Is Not a License to Drive High

Driving While High is Still a Crime in Illinois

Medical marijuana became legal in the State of Illinois on January 1, 2014. However, it is important to note that Illinois law applies strict regulations for using medical marijuana, especially when it comes to driving under the influence of marijuana.

Driving while drunk or drugged can significantly alter the driver’s perceptions and reaction times, leading to serious accidents and catastrophic injuries. If you have sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drugged driver, a lawyer can determine whether or not you are eligible to recover monetary compensation. The personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. may be able to represent you in your case and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Cannabis laws in Illinois

While the state enacted medical marijuana laws in Illinois in 2014 and legalized recreational marijuana in 2020, medical marijuana users must follow regulations. Many restrictions govern the possession and consumption of medical marijuana. In terms of possession, all Illinois residents must carry only up to 30 grams of cannabis flower on their person. Medical marijuana users may not consume or smoke marijuana while driving in a motor vehicle, even if the driver possesses a medical marijuana card.

Driving While Under the Influence of Medical Marijuana in Illinois

While an individual with trace amounts of medical marijuana technically can drive, it is best not to do so. Specifically, a medical marijuana card does not prevent the police from arresting the driver for operating the vehicle in a reckless or careless manner.

If a driver is operating their vehicle recklessly with marijuana in his or her system, Illinois DUI laws will still apply. Illinois had adopted a set of roadside tests designed to determine if the driver is impaired by marijuana, as well as threshold limits for blood and saliva levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Drivers who need to be taken somewhere while they are still under the influence of their marijuana prescription should consider letting a friend or neighbor drive them, or grabbing an Uber or Lyft. Another option is to take public transportation.

Can I Refuse a Sobriety Test?

A person might refuse a sobriety test following an accident, which can have consequences. Commercial drivers generally must undergo drug testing after they crash, though non-commercial drivers can choose to accept the penalties of a refusal. This means that you might not have concrete evidence of the drugs in their system at the time of the accident. However, a skilled car accident lawyer can still seek evidence of negligence and liability for the crash.

Medical Marijuana DUIs in Chicago

Chicago and the whole State of Illinois considers a medical marijuana card an automatic authorization to submit to field sobriety testing. If the officer reasonably believes that the driver is impaired, the test will go forward. If the driver refuses, the State may suspend or revoke the driver’s license. Moreover, if the State suspects that the cause of the DUI was medical marijuana, the State can prosecute the driver under the State’s normal DUI laws.

A police officer is also allowed to testify against the offending driver in court – and to confirm the driver’s level of impairment at the time the driver was pulled over. The offending driver may also be subject to the State’s reckless driving laws, and a conviction can result in criminal fines or penalties.

Reckless Driving while Driving on Marijuana

Drugs, including medical marijuana, can seriously impact a driver’s abilities while behind the wheel of a car. Drugs and alcohol can cause blurry vision and may also affect a person’s perception – including depth perception – while on the roadway. Other common symptoms associated with drugged driving include bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, slurred speech, and a dazed look.

Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs can result in collisions with roadway objects, including guardrails, walls, or buildings. Pedestrian collisions are also possible, as are collisions with other motor vehicles on the roadway.

What is an impaired state?

When drivers consume marijuana while driving, their mental and physical abilities are significantly limited. The driver’s alert state begins to dwindle, and the driver’s ability to physically react to any changes on the road will diminish as well. Simple tasks that a driver can perform when they are sober will be challenging while they are under the influence of cannabis. As the driver’s abilities decrease, the chances of a car crash increase.

Proving Reckless or Impaired Driving in Illinois

Reckless driving is one form of negligent driving. In reckless driving cases, the injured accident victim has the burden of proving negligence and damages. The injured accident victim must be able to show that, as a result of the presence of drugs in the driver’s system, the driver operated a vehicle in a careless or reckless manner. A driver must ordinarily operate a motor vehicle as a “reasonable” driver would under the same or similar circumstances.

Arguably, if the driver operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, including medical marijuana, it violates the “reasonable person” standard of care. This is because an impaired driver poses a potential hazard to all other motor vehicle drivers on the roadway at that time.

The injured accident victim must also be able to show that the impaired driver’s violation of the standard of care directly resulted in certain injuries and damages. Available damages may include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those types of damages that can readily be calculated in dollars and cents – such as medical bills and lost wages. On the other hand, non-economic damages, such as pain, suffering, inconvenience, and permanency, are more subjective and do not have a hard-and-fast number associated with them.

What should I do if a person who was high or on drugs caused my car accident?

If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and suspect that the other driver was impaired by medical marijuana, there are several steps you can take. Immediately call the police and tell them that you were involved in an accident with a suspected drugged driver. When the police officer arrives on-scene, he or she may be able to administer the necessary tests and should also be able to compose a police report or incident report.

Moreover, if you have sustained an injury in the accident, it is best to travel in an ambulance to the nearest hospital. In the alternative, you should have someone drive you to an emergency room or urgent care facility. You should seek emergency medical care even if you do not believe that you sustained a serious injury in the accident. This is because many injuries do not come to light immediately, and it is usually best to have a medical professional diagnose your condition.

What can a car accident lawyer do for you?

Maybe you are a victim of a car accident caused by a medical marijuana user who wants to hold the driver accountable. When you decide to fight for your compensation, you need the proper legal representation for your case. You do not want to go through the legal process by yourself. This point is where the counsel of a car accident lawyer comes in. A lawyer can benefit your car accident case in several ways.

Properly estimating your damages

After a car accident caused by a medical marijuana user, you will likely suffer some injuries that hinder your life in costly ways. You can suffer other damages due to your car accident outside of medical expenses and lost wages. Even after receiving medical attention for your injuries, your condition can impact your physical and mental health in ways that are not noticeable yet.

Your car accident lawyer can calculate all of the damages associated with your case and even calculate the costs of potential damages in the future. With medical care, in particular, a car accident lawyer knows how to calculate the costs for future medical costs or future lost wages.

Your car accident lawyer can also defend your legal rights against insurance companies. The medical marijuana user’s insurance company will be the primary party responsible for your compensation. Because of this, insurance companies will poke various holes through your argument of liability. They might even insinuate that you bear some responsibility for your accident.

Your car accident lawyer can counter these arguments by effectively proving the other driver’s liability. An attorney is skilled in conducting investigations and gathering the necessary evidence for car accident claims, including those stemming from driving under the influence of marijuana.

Reach fair settlements

Depending on various factors, you may not have to participate in a trial to receive your compensation. If the insurance company admits to the liability of its policyholder, the adjuster might make a fairly quick settlement offer. This settlement might be an attractive option if it did not come with a string attached.

In exchange for a settlement offer, you will have to surrender your right to sue the other driver for any future compensation related to your accident. To add insult to injury, the insurance company’s settlement amount is usually much lower than what you actually need for your injuries.

With a car accident lawyer to represent you, you can avoid being tricked by insurance companies in this manner. With their experience, they can assess the insurance company’s offer and determine whether it is worth accepting or not. Most of the time, it never is. If you still want to pursue the settlement route, you can still negotiate after you have denied the insurance company’s offer. Your lawyer can negotiate for the settlement amount that you actually deserve.

Experienced court representation

Even if your lawsuit does result in a trial, you can rest assured that you are in the best hands with an experienced car accident lawyer. Your lawyer is skilled in preparing for each step in the trial process, from depositions to witness testimonies. Your attorney is like the legal coach of your personal injury case; they will prepare you and all witnesses for the defendant’s arguments. Even if the defendant’s lawyer requests to cross-examine you, your lawyer can object to any ridiculous statements made and prepare you in the best way possible.

Contact a car accident attorney for a free case evaluation today

Dave Abels Personal Injury Lawyer
Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer, Dave Abels

Medical marijuana users do not have free reign to drive in any condition they want. Like all drivers, the law prohibits them from driving under the influence. Still, some medical marijuana users take that chance and put their lives and the lives of other motorists in danger. An accident due to impaired driving can change a victim’s life in an instant, resulting in costly injuries that alter your life in many ways.

When you have suffered an injury in a car accident caused by a medical marijuana user, that driver deserves to be responsible for your injuries. This liability is in addition to any criminal penalties the driver faces. While you have the right to represent yourself in a car accident case, you should never do so.

A skilled car accident attorney can alleviate a majority of the stress associated with your case. Do not wait to consult with an attorney after a car accident. You might lose out on the chance to recover compensation for your injuries if you delay too long.

David Abels Author Image

David Abels


David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.

Author's Bio

You Might Be Also Interested In

Getting Into a Car Accident…

The car owner’s insurance company is usually responsible when someone’s friend causes an accident in a borrowed vehicle.…

View Post

Did You Get into an…

If you got into an accident with a texting driver, you can do multiple things to pursue the…

View Post

Chicago AAA Dispute Lawyer

If you have a dispute while seeking compensation from AAA, allowing a lawyer to resolve your claim may…

View Post