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Understanding Illinois' Employee Drug Testing LawsUnlike most states, Illinois does not have an all-encompassing law regarding employee drug testing by private employers. Instead, there are a series of smaller drug testing laws that mostly cover state employees. Federal laws require drug tests for workers operating heavy machinery, such as commercial truck drivers, school bus drivers and carnival workers. Otherwise, it is mostly up to employers to determine whether a drug test is necessary upon hiring or during employment.

The lack of a dedicated Illinois law to drug testing makes it harder to know employees' rights, but there are regulations and protections for employees among the state's drug laws.

Here are three facts to know about Illinois' employee drug testing laws:

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They Are Not Your Drugs … Or Are They?, drug crime, criminal defense, drug posessionLaw enforcement officers stop you while you are driving on your way home or while you are walking around town. Before you know it, police have searched your person or your vehicle and discovered illegal drugs. When the officer holds up the baggie or container, your first response may be to say, “These drugs are not mine – I'm holding them for a friend (or family member).” Not only are law enforcement officers not likely to believe you – this is an excuse they have likely heard hundreds of times in their careers by individuals in a similar predicament as yourself – it also may not even matter if your statement is factually accurate. Here's why:

“Possession” of Drugs Does Not Necessarily Mean Ownership

Illinois law prohibits individuals from “possessing” illegal or prohibited drugs. Many individuals erroneously believe that they are not able to “possess” drugs if the drugs do not belong to them. However, the verb “possess” in the context of a drug crime has a very specific meaning: more specifically, it is possible to “possess” drugs if the drugs are found on your person or if they are in an area that is subject to your control. Carrying prohibited drugs in your pocket constitutes “possession,” as may driving a car with drugs in your vehicle's center console or cup holder. Even if the drugs were “owned” by another person for whom you were holding them, this does not negate the fact that you were found in “possession” of the drugs. What is more, the law does not prohibit multiple individuals from possessing the same drugs at the same moment.

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Illinois law, marijuana possession, Crystal Lake Criminal Defense AttorneysA new Illinois law has been proposed that seeks to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, allowing for fines instead of imprisonment for possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana. Additionally, if the proposed fine is paid, the fined person would eventually have the record and the nature of the fine expunged. The changes proposed under the new law are aimed at reducing jail and prison overcrowding, and also helping people possessing small amounts of marijuana avoid the stigma of a criminal conviction.

Currently, Illinois law provides for a fine of $1,500 and between 30 days to six months in jail for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana. Amounts over 10 grams carry prison terms of one to 15 years. The change from prosecuting to fining people for possession of small amounts of marijuana is not an entirely new concept, and cities like Chicago already have such systems in place. The proposed law would provide a uniform benchmark for how possession of small amounts of marijuana would be handled statewide.

The proposed law would also affect what would trigger a person to be charged with DUI based on marijuana. Currently, the DUI law is considered zero tolerance when it comes to marijuana and driving. Any amount of marijuana detected on a person's breath, blood, or urine can be sufficient to charge a person with DUI. This means that a driver who smoked or used marijuana weeks before being stopped by police may be charged with a DUI upon testing positive for the drug, without necessarily being impaired. The proposed law would base a charge of DUI involving marijuana on the amount detected, taking into consideration that marijuana can be detected for at least 30 days after use.

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