Arlington Heights police responded about 9:15 p.m. Sunday, May 23, 2021 to a report of a suspicious vehicle with occupants in the block of 600 North Haddow Avenue Arlington Heights. A white Chevrolet sedan was parked with the engine running for over 2 1/2 hours with three or more occupants inside the vehicle. Two other vehicles were parked nearby — a white Dodge Charger or Challenger with illegal tinted windows and another unnamed vehicle. These two other vehicles appeared to be connected with the occupants in the white Chevrolet sedan in some manner.
When two Arlington Heights police units arrived to the call of a suspicious vehicle with occupants, the driver with passengers in the white Chevrolet sedan immediately left the area. Police did not stop the vehicle and did not follow the vehicle, but a few minutes later the vehicle was involved in a traffic stop on Northwest Highway (US 14 EAST) at Kensington Road in Arlington Heights. At least five Arlington Heights police units were involved in the traffic stop.
The vehicle and occupants were investigated, but no arrests occurred. Parents of some of the occupants were notified, and parents or family members picked up some of the occupants, apparently at the request of the police. Police appeared to collect evidence or possessions from the white Chevrolet sedan and placed the items in red plastic bags that had been stored and retrieved from the hatchback area of the police SUVs.
Police determined no illegal drugs were in the vehicle, and that the vehicle was not being operated by a driver that was impaired. However there may have been items and/or substances that legally should not have been possessed by minors in the vehicle.
As of Jan. 1, 2020, the cultivation, trafficking, sale, or possession of a small amount of marijuana is legal in Illinois under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act if you’re 21-and-over.
Similar investigations to this incident in Arlington Heights and other communities have occurred since the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act effective January 1, 2020, and it is important to note that minors under the age of 21 are prohibited from possessing or using marijuana, with the exception of those who are authorized to use medical cannabis. However, Cook County currently does not prosecute for small amounts or “insignificant” amounts of marijuana possession by teens — although this could change at any time, or additional circumstances concurrent with possession of insignificant amounts of marijuana could lead to arrest and possible prosecution with serious legal repercussions.
In other words, minors under age 21 who possess marijuana are in violation of Illinois Statutes, but are often not arrested by police or prosecuted because Cook County prosecutors are not interested in pursuing these specific misdemeanor charges.
Circumstances that could have severe legal consequences include accidents connected to cannabis use or possession by a minor that cause great bodily harm or death; and that are connected to possession of cannabis by a minor that also involves any parent or guardian that knowingly permits his or her residence, any other private property under his or her control, or any vehicle, conveyance, or watercraft under his or her control. A crash or accident involving minors with illegal possession or consumption of cannabis with the knowing of an adult or guardian that also results in great bodily harm or death, steps up in severity from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony.
These circumstances could also lead to severe financial loss as a result of a civil liability lawsuit brought by an injured private party for personal injury and damages, or brought by the estate of a dead family member.
Legal for 21-and-Over: According to Illinois Compiled Statutes, the following acts are not a violation of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (410 ILCS 705/) and shall not be a criminal or civil offense under State law or the ordinances of any unit of local government of this State or be a basis for seizure or forfeiture of assets under State law for persons other than natural individuals under 21 years of age:
(1) possession, consumption, use, purchase, obtaining, or transporting cannabis paraphernalia or an amount of cannabis for personal use that does not exceed the possession limit under Section 10-10 or otherwise in accordance with the requirements of this Act;
(2) cultivation of cannabis for personal use in accordance with the requirements of this Act; and
(3) controlling property if actions that are authorized by this Act occur on the property in accordance with this Act.
Illegal for Under 21: According to Illinois Statute (410 ILCS 705/10-15), Persons under 21 years of age.
(a) Nothing in this Act is intended to permit the transfer of cannabis, with or without remuneration, to a person under 21 years of age, or to allow a person under 21 years of age to purchase, possess, use, process, transport, grow, or consume cannabis except where authorized by the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act or by the Community College Cannabis Vocational Pilot Program.
(b) notwithstanding any other provisions of law authorizing the possession of medical cannabis, nothing in this Act authorizes a person who is under 21 years of age to possess cannabis. A person under 21 years of age with cannabis in his or her possession is guilty of a civil law violation as outlined in paragraph (a) of Section 4 of the Cannabis Control Act.
(c) If the person under the age of 21 was in a motor vehicle at the time of the offense, the Secretary of State may suspend or revoke the driving privileges of any person for a violation of this Section under Section 6-206 of the Illinois Vehicle Code and the rules adopted under it.
(d) It is unlawful for any parent or guardian to knowingly permit his or her residence, any other private property under his or her control, or any vehicle, conveyance, or watercraft under his or her control to be used by an invitee of the parent’s child or the guardian’s ward, if the invitee is under the age of 21, in a manner that constitutes a violation of this Section. A parent or guardian is deemed to have knowingly permitted his or her residence, any other private property under his or her control, or any vehicle, conveyance, or watercraft under his or her control to be used in violation of this Section if he or she knowingly authorizes or permits consumption of cannabis by underage invitees. Any person who violates this subsection (d) is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor and the person’s sentence shall include, but shall not be limited to, a fine of not less than $500. If a violation of this subsection (d) directly or indirectly results in great bodily harm or death to any person, the person violating this subsection is guilty of a Class 4 felony. In this subsection (d), where the residence or other property has an owner and a tenant or lessee, the trier of fact may infer that the residence or other property is occupied only by the tenant or lessee. (Source: P.A. 101-27, eff. 6-25-19; 101-593, eff. 12-4-19.)
According to the Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola of Elgin, possession of marijuana by a minor is no longer a criminal offense, but is instead treated as a civil law violation, which is a violation that may be punished by a fine of $100-200. If a minor (driver) is found to be in possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle, their driver’s license may be suspended or revoked.
A marijuana DUI is more confusing than an alcohol DUI. First, there are no blood or urine test options for law enforcement for cannabis or THC. The use of saliva testing for THC is increasing, but the saliva test is at most in its experimental phase with regards to consistent and accurate THC measurement against an established baseline, according O’Flaherty Law of Chicago and suburbs. If a police officer feels it is warranted, they can ask the driver to submit to a blood and/or urine test at the appropriate location.
Although police may have difficulty proving a marijuana DUI or even the determination whether there is any impairment with a marijuana traffic stop, they may act on the side of safety to avoid liability for the risk of a future crash caused by the driver after the release from the traffic stop. In other words, there is a difference between considering whether there is enough evidence for prosecution, and whether there is zero risk of a future crash due to any level of impairment.
In order to play safe, police may request that people involved in a traffic stop (the driver and passengers) call for sober family members or friends to arrive to provide transportation for the vehicle occupants, and additionally drive home the vehicle involved in the traffic stop.
Field sobriety tests are physical performance tests that challenge balance, vision, memory, etc and are standardized, but are specific to alcohol and not generally used as evidence for DUI of marijuana, according to O’Flaherty Law.
If an individual fails a chemical test for THC levels, is charged with a DUI, and it is his or her first offense they can lose their license for six months to one year, be fined $2,500.00 and possibly face imprisonment of up to one year, according to O’Flaherty Law.
With a second offense, O’Flaherty Law states, “you’re looking at three to five years loss of license, mandatory jail time or community service, substance abuse counseling, and likely further fines.”
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