Cannabis has been legal in Colorado for some time, both for recreational and medicinal purposes. Despite this, driving under the influence of marijuana is not legal. Marijuana advocates argue that driving while high is very different from driving while high. Even so, people driving under the influence of marijuana face the same penalties they would face for drinking and driving.
A disabled driver should never take to the road. Alcohol consumption or the use of legal or illegal drugs can lead to impairment or a combination of both. A driver who is under the influence of a substance is at risk regardless of how it affects them physically or mentally. There has long been an understanding of how alcohol affects your driving, but as marijuana use becomes more acceptable, it is becoming increasingly clear how it can affect individuals while they are driving. Regardless of what state-altering substance you have used, if you have been arrested for a DUI in Colorado, it is imperative that you consult with a Colorado DUI attorney to ensure your rights are protected.
Colorado marijuana laws related to driving
The Colorado Department of Transportation prohibits drivers from driving with 5 nanograms or more of active THC in the bloodstream, the chemical in marijuana that causes intoxication. Medicinal as well as recreational use of marijuana is included in this category. A chemical test is often used when a person is suspected of driving under the influence, but law enforcement officers may also make an arrest on a probable cause. An impaired driver can be arrested without a chemical test if he shows signs of impairment. Colorado residents and nonresidents automatically consent to these tests when either obtaining their Colorado driver’s license or electing to operate a vehicle on Colorado roads. This is often referred to as explicit consent.
How marijuana affects drivers
According to proponents of more lenient marijuana laws, intoxication has a much less severe effect on driving than alcohol and driving. A study conducted by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) found that marijuana only slightly affects a person’s reflexes and motor skills while driving. It has also been said that drivers with marijuana impairment adapt their driving to their impairment, e.g. B. reduce their speed and be more aware of dangers.
In contrast, drunk drivers have long been known to take serious risks at the wheel, ranging from speeding to traffic violations. CNN reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Office on National Drug Control Policy, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse funded the marijuana-related driving study. In addition, the study showed that some drivers experience reduced peripheral vision and a tendency to weave within their lane after using marijuana, so there is some evidence of marijuana impairment. As a result of high levels of THC, the compound in cannabis that induces a high, many driving-related behaviors are impaired, including the ability to change lanes and respond in an emergency situation. When driving, using marijuana can make you feel paranoid, trigger a panic attack, and make you feel like everything around you is moving slower than it actually is.
It’s also important to note that frequent marijuana users can be charged with marijuana reports even if they were unaffected at the time of their arrest. According to Leaf Science, cannabis smokers can have trace amounts of THC in their bodies for several days after their last use. Although the effects can vary from person to person, those who use marijuana habitually have marijuana in their system for a long time.
Denver and other areas where marijuana use is legal are relatively new to marijuana use and driving. In that regard, it can be confusing for drivers to know how much marijuana they can consume and still legally drive. Having your case reviewed by an experienced DUI attorney can be beneficial if you face marijuana-related DUI charges.
DUI for marijuana in Colorado
Unlike alcohol, marijuana does not have a DUI per se. Objective evidence must show that you could not drive safely while under the influence of drugs. However, driving under the influence of marijuana can be concluded if your blood contains more than 5 nanograms of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the active ingredient in most marijuana strains.
However, this amount of THC in the blood cannot be meaningful either. DUI and DWAI attorneys in Colorado can challenge the results of a blood test in court. The prosecutor must prove that you were actually too stoned to drive safely in order to prove you are guilty of DUI from marijuana. An example of such evidence would be:
- Violating Colorado traffic rules
- Locking in and out of a lane
- Speeding or driving the vehicle too slowly
- Stoned appearance (bloodshot eyes, slurred speech)
- A police officer smells marijuana from the car
- There are marijuana paraphernalia in the vehicle
- Marijuana itself was found in the vehicle
It’s important to note that medical marijuana tabs, by themselves, do not give officers the authority to request a blood test based solely on the fact that you possess one. Furthermore, it cannot be part of the prosecution’s case against you.
Penalties for Marijuana DUI in Colorado
Marijuana DUIs in Colorado have the same consequences as alcohol DUIs. In addition, the Colorado DWAI’s marijuana penalties are the same as the Colorado DWAI’s for alcohol. Those convicted of a marijuana DUI or DWAI can face penalties such as:
- A prison sentence (especially if you have already been convicted of drunk/drug driving)
- Fines up to $1,000
- loss of driver’s license
- When you get your driver’s license back you will need to install an interlock ignition device
- Increased insurance costs due to required SR22 insurance plan after DUI conviction