On January 1, 2020, Illinois’ Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act will go into effect, decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for individuals 21 and older. Consumers will be able to buy marijuana for recreational use from licensed sellers in the state.
While buying, possessing and using marijuana will be legal for most, it is still against the law to drive under the influence of marijuana. Victims of car accidents may be able to show the other driver’s negligence if the other person was driving while high.
Negligence in an Illinois Car Accident
Most car accident personal injury claims are based on negligence in Illinois. The accident victim may be able to get compensation from the other driver who negligently caused the accident. Negligence can be shown through showing that the other driver:
- 1. Had a duty of reasonable care while driving,
- 2. Breached that duty,
- 3. The breach was a cause of the accident, and
- 4. The victim suffered damages because of the accident.
One way to show negligence in a car accident injury claim is showing that the other driver violated a traffic law which caused the accident.
Illinois DUI Marijuana Laws
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a cause of many car accidents in Illinois. When a driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs, the driver may face criminal DUI charges. An accident victim can use evidence of the DUI conviction in his or her personal injury claim to show the other person was driving negligently. This includes driving under the influence of marijuana.
Under Illinois law, a driver is presumed to be under the influence of cannabis if there is a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of 5 nanograms or more in whole blood or 10 nanograms or more in another bodily substance. This means a driver is under the influence per se, much like a driver would be with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.
A driver may not appear at all impaired with a THC blood concentration of 5 nanograms, but the law would still consider the driver to be impaired and subject to criminal charges. However, even if a driver has a THC blood concentration of lower than 5 nanograms, that can still be considered with other evidence in determining if the driver was under the influence.
Was the Driver High at the Time of the Illinois Accident?
If the other driver in an accident smells of alcohol or marijuana, you should consider contacting the police to report the accident. A driver who is high may not want you to call the police and try and settle the accident “off the books.” However, it is easier for the police to deal with an impaired driver than for you to later show the driver was impaired if the police were never called.
Additionally, the other driver may simply disappear and never return your calls about paying for the damage. In a worst-case scenario, the other driver may later claim that you caused the accident and file a lawsuit against you for property damage, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
There may be other ways to show the other driver was impaired. Your attorney may be able to search text and phone records or social media accounts. The other driver may have posted pictures of smoking weed, getting drunk, or sent texts to a friend about driving while high.
Talk to your Illinois personal injury attorney after an accident, to understand how best to handle your claim. Contact the Cullotta Bravo Law Group today at 630-898-7800 to schedule your free consultation.