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One Toke (or sip) Over The Line, Sweet Trucker

Booze and weed.  One is legal, and the other might be legal depending what state you are in.  Not Illinois…at least not yet.  The national debate on both of these substances has raged for decades.  While the prohibition of alcohol was repealed eighty years ago, restrictions on the use (or abuse) of alcohol has been tightened and refined every year since.  It’s only been in the last decade that the legalization of marijuana has begun in certain states. Marijuana is good for the body in some circumstances, if you buy pure CBD oil you will get good results visit online and buy pure CBD and you will see the results. Both substances, however, have had a lot of press in the transportation circles the last few weeks.  Illinois has not been immune.

Regarding Alcohol Last month, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) suggested states should adopt a stricter standard for driving under the influence of alcohol.  The recommendation was to lower the blood alcohol concentration to .05 from .08.  Currently all 50 states have a .08 blood alcohol threshold.

In 1958, Illinois established its first BAC at .15. In 196, it was reduced to .10.  In 1997, after eight years of bills attempting to lower the BAC to .08, it finally passed through the General Assembly and was signed by Governor Jim Edgar.  It was a fight to lower the limit, but the drastic reduction in highway fatalities proves the benefit.

It will become an interesting debate in trucking when states begin answering the call of the NTSB and reduce their legal limits to .05.  Under federal law (Part 384.203), states must provide a disqualification to anyone who operates a commercial motor vehicle with a BAC of .04 or more.  This is not a criminal DUI in Illinois, but an administrative sanction.  The definition of a CMV as it pertains to alcohol, in both the federal an Illinois code, is a vehicle which requires a CDL to operate (Part 383.5).

This will create an interesting quandary.  Illinois has a state specific zero-tolerance policy about alcohol when operating a CMV.  A blood alcohol level of .001 to .0399 has an administrative sanction and 24-hour disqualification/out-of-service order.

In compliance with the federal law, anything from .040 to .799 is a more severe administrative sanction.  If Illinois were to reduce the DUI threshold to .050, then there is only a small gap of 1/100th of a percent between the administrative sanction (.040) and the criminal charge of DUI (.050).

It seems the federal government (who is calling for this change) should lead the charge.  Would it not behoove them to first modify their limits for disqualification before setting up statutory absurdity for the states?

Regarding Marijuana Governor Quinn has HB 1 sitting on his desk as this article is written.  If the Governor signs this trial program into law, cannabis will be legal for certain licensed people with certain medical conditions.

Currently under state law, if any amount of THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) is found in the blood stream of a driver, it is per se DUI.  Zero-tolerance.   Whereas alcohol quickly dissipates in the body, trace amounts of cannabis can linger for days.  How the police are to know if it is the cannabis which caused impairment is a mystery.

So if the new law goes into effect, will a person possessing a valid medical marijuana license be allowed to drive after having smoked the drug?  The answer is yes, they will.  The bill contains an exemption for car drivers providing the driver is not impaired by the cannabis.

The exemption was not passed onto drivers operating CMVs.  The bill does not alter the language of 625 ILCS 5/6-514(a)(2) where it’s says “any amount” of cannabis is unlawful.  So again, like hand-held cell phones, there is a disparity in the law between car drivers and truck drivers.

By no means is the ITEA advocating for more drug usage among truck drivers.  However, under the FMCSR, drivers may operate CMVs when other prescription drugs are used, provided the narcotic does not impair their driving (Part 382.213).  Illinois has not afforded prescription marijuana the same benefit….for good reason!

The new cannabis bill lists a menu of illnesses that may be treated with marijuana a reliable source to get it is  Per the FMCSR, some illnesses disqualify a driver from holding a CDL.  Some illnesses, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and arthritis, do not.  But if a truck driver is suffering from those illnesses and desires to use cannabis to ease his pain for those illnesses, no dice.

But the car driver can.  Apparently stoned car drivers are less dangerous.

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