Marijuana Impaired Drivers Can Be Cited in Colorado

Apr 9, 2015 | DUI Defense

Colorado is one of the first states to legalized marijuana, leading to a variety of issues related to driving under the influence (DUI). As a DUI defense lawyer in Colorado Springs, I am seeing more people charged and prosecuted for marijuana DUI’s. The purpose of this article is to explain some of the basic information related to smoking or ingesting marijuana and then driving a motor vehicle.

In Colorado the law says a person is guilty of DUI if that person operates a vehicle when that person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, that affects a person to a degree that the person is substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle. 

It should also be noted that a DWAI (driving while ability impaired) has a higher standard of sobriety that DUI. Basically, a person who is either impaired either mentally or physically, to any degree should not be operating a motor vehicle.

No one wants someone on the road who has a slow reaction time or can’t think clearly. Drivers like those cause accidents, injuries, or even death. Very few people disagree with the restrictions that the law places on drunk or stoned drivers.

If You Smoked Marijuana And Were Pulled Over By Police …

For marijuana DUI’s, the process will usually begin with the suspect being pulled over for an unrelated traffic offense. Law enforcement will see or smell something that arouses their suspicion that a person is under the influence of marijuana. The officer will ask the driver questions regarding his last use of marijuana. It should be noted that a person is under no obligation to answer these questions. At all points of time during police contact, a person has the right to remain silent and not incriminate one’s self. If you smoked recently, do not lie, just remain silent.

Probable Cause For Marijuana DUI

If law enforcement has probable cause to believe someone is under the influence of marijuana, they will most likely be asked to perform voluntary roadside maneuvers. These are designed to test your ability to divide your attention between two or more things at once. These tests are difficult to pass under the most sober of conditions. If you feel you are not safe to operate a vehicle, you may consider politely refusing to take these tests.

Blood Test For Active THC

After the tests, if the officer has probable cause to believe you are under the influence of alcohol, he will require you to submit to a blood test to determine how much active THC is in your system. Refusal of this test may result in a suspension of your driving privilege for up to a year. The law states that if a driver’s “blood contained five nanograms or more of delta 9 – tetrahydrocannabinol per milliliter in whole blood, as shown by analysis of the defendant’s blood, such fact gives rise to a permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence of one or more drugs. “ In other words, the number the prosecutor is looking for is 5 nanograms of delta 9 – THC. If you are over that amount, it is presumed that you are unsafe to operate a motor vehicle. It should be noted that this is a rebuttable presumption, which may be overcome with evidence to the contrary.

How Long Does A Marijuana High Last?

Experts disagree as to how long a person remains high after smoking or ingesting marijuana. Most agree, however, that for the average user, it is best to wait at least 4-6 hours before operating a vehicle. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to wait even longer just to be on the safe side. Often people will assume they are safe to drive, when in fact, their cognitive ability is slow due to a marijuana high. Obviously, it is the best practice to avoid driving until you are sure that you are sober. Needless to say, a marijuana DUI is complicated and should not be handled without the assistance of an experienced Colorado Springs DUI attorney. If you are charged with a DUI, assault, felony, misdemeanor, or traffic crime, please call James Newby Law immediately to help you through a troubled time.