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Illinois Law Enforcement Has No Way To Roadside Test For Marijuana Impairment While Driving As Legalization Looms

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Drivers under the influence of marijuana are up to twice as likely to crash, according to a AAA report.

In a state that is gearing up for legalization, there's been pushback from the beginning from groups like the Illinois Sheriff's Association, who said there is no roadside testing available for use by law enforcement in Illinois to test if a driver has been high or even is high in that moment.

In the last 30 days more than 14 million American drivers got behind the wheel within and hour of lighting up according to the new AAA report.

Pot affects reaction time and judgment, and the report claims those 14 million drivers were twice as likely to crash.

But the question remains: How will police test for marijuana impairment while driving?

When it comes to marijuana DUIs, there is no breathalyzer, no one-leg stand, no magic bullet.

A blood test is used, and five nanograms of THC in the blood stream is considered illegal here.

Legalization won't change that.

"It's always going to be problematic until law enforcement and employers are willing to adopt a test that measures impairment versus presence because once they use it, it stays in their system for up to 28 days," said attorney Larry Mishkin with Hoban Law Group.

The legalization law, awaiting Gov. JB Pritzker's signature, creates a DUI task force through Illinois State Police that's goal is to find better roadside testing methods.

Because it's not official law yet, state police and the secretary of state's office would not comment on it for this story.

Chicago police sent CBS 2 the following statement regarding enforcement:

"State Police would be the best authority to comment on this issue as the majority of their work revolves around road safety and traffic enforcement. CPD focus is violent crime and we will be in a better position to comment once we've had a chance to review the laws, current research and best practices in other states with similar regulations."

The Illinois Sheriff's Association sent the following response:

"The Illinois Sheriffs' Association is extremely disappointed and concerned by the passage of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (HB 1438).

Currently, no validated roadside tests are available for use by law enforcement in Illinois.  The current process for proving level of impairment would be to perform a blood test. Driving under the influence of cannabis without these tests is a significant problem today and we are concerned that with adult use approval that this issue will only get worse.

The Illinois Sheriffs' Association believes recreational cannabis is a mistake, but we will continue to participate and share recommendations that will make Illinois' roads and neighborhoods safer. Law enforcement will always meet its charge, to protect and serve our communities."

Illinois State Police had this to say about enforcement:

"If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe the person was under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, intoxicating compound or compounds, or any combination thereof, the law enforcement officer shall request a chemical test or tests which shall be administered at the direction of the arresting officer. When a person submits to a blood test at the request of a law enforcement officer, only a physician authorized to practice medicine, a licensed physician assistant, a licensed advance practice registered nurse, a registered nurse, trained phlebotomist, or licensed paramedic, or other qualified person approved by the Dept. of State Police may withdraw blood for the purposes of determining the alcohol, drug, or alcohol and drug content therein."

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