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Decatur police: No cannabis DUI arrests on first day of legal recreational use

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DECATUR — No arrests for driving under the influence of cannabis were made in Decatur or Macon County on Wednesday, the first day adult recreational use was legal in Illinois.

Deputy Chief Shane Brandel, in charge of the patrol division, also reported no arrests made for breaking the new recreational use law, which strictly limits how much of the drug adults can possess and where they can use it.

He reminded users, however, that impaired driving resulting from cannabis use remains an offense police are watching for, along with alcohol impairment. “Driving under the influence of cannabis was illegal before the new law and it’s still illegal,” Brandel said. “Don’t do it.”

New Year's Day was the last day of a recent holiday driving enforcement effort that saw 16 arrests for driving under the influence between Dec. 16 and then. Of those, three arrests were for cannabis use and two others involved the use of other drugs. The rest were for alcohol impairment. 

Figures from the police department show that one of the cannabis DUI arrests was made Dec. 31, on the eve of the new law. Three other DUI arrests were made over the New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day period, but all involved alcohol impairment, police said. Of the two other DUI arrests involving drugs other than cannabis during the entire enforcement period, police said one driver had used an amphetamine-like drug and a narcotic, and another had used a combination of unknown drugs and alcohol.

Macon County Sheriff Tony Brown reported no tickets issued by his deputies for DUI cannabis impairment in the brief time the new recreational cannabis law has been in effect. And he also reported no arrests for cannabis users violating provisions of the recreational use law.

He said the police aren’t looking to persecute people who use cannabis, but emphasized Brandel’s point that driving under the influence of drink or drugs will not be ignored or forgiven.

“I just hope individuals don’t get behind a wheel impaired, whether by alcohol or any other substance,” he added.

The department also reported 14 speeding violations, three seat belt violations, two cell phone violations and one child restraint violation during the holiday traffic enforcement campaign, police reported, there were 

Sgt. Steve Hagemeyer said in a statement that the department added additional officers for traffic enforcement between Dec. 16 and Jan. 2. 

"We can't stress this enough: Impaired driving is deadly, illegal behavior and it puts drivers, passengers and other road users at risk," Hagemeyer said. "The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign helps our law enforcement officers address this problem head on."

The Illinois Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation with federal highway safety funds managed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: A look back at Decatur police through the years

Contact Kennedy Nolen at (217) 421-6985. Follow her on Twitter: @KNolenWrites


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The Decatur Police Department in 2019 implemented new technology, developed a new civilian position and prepared for issues with the upcoming legalization of marijuana. Most significantly, the agency dealt with an increase in the number of homicides, several of which remain under investigation. 

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