Marijuana was legalized in Colorado on January 1, 2014. As a result, the Colorado Department of Transportation has stepped up its education and outreach efforts in order to curb drugged driving. Marijuana use impairs short term memory, reaction time, hand-eye coordination, concentration, and time and depth perception. The legalization of marijuana has not changed the law – getting high and getting behind the wheel will result in a DUI. Due to marijuana’s impact on motor skills and judgment, Colorado has put a limit on the amount of marijuana a driver may have in their system.
The legal limit for driving under the influence of marijuana is a blood level of five or more nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Drugged driving has been defined as driving under the influence of any psychoactive or mind-altering drug.
The National Institute of Health has found that approximately 9.9 million people in the United States have reported driving under the influence of illegal drugs, which the agency considers as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. It is for this reason that DUI penalties in Colorado are the same whether the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Colorado’s Express Consent Law: Why You Must Consent to a Chemical Test
Law enforcement officers are trained to observe instances of impaired driving. If an officer makes a traffic stop based on suspicion that the driver is impaired, the officer may request the driver submit to a breathalyzer or blood test. If pulled over, the driver does not have the option to speak to an attorney prior to submitting to one of these tests – a request to speak to an attorney may be deemed a refusal.
The Express Consent law requires any driver pulled over by Colorado police to consent to a chemical test if the officer reasonably believes that the driver is driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. If you refuse consent to a chemical test, you will immediately lose your driver’s license and will be categorized as a persistent drunk driver.
The punishment for refusing a chemical test includes one year without a drivers’ license, two years of mandatory ignition interlock, as well as therapy and alcohol education in compliance with the law. This is why you should always remember to consent to a chemical test if pulled over to avoid the punishment for refusal.
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Will I Lose My Driver’s License?
The short answer is yes, for a specified amount of time. For a first offense, you are subject to license suspension and points against your license. Additional DUI convictions may result in increasingly serious consequences that may affect your ability to drive to work or school.
You may also be required to install equipment in your car that measures your level of impairment before your license is able to be reinstated. The lower end of penalties includes license suspension for 9 months. The second conviction may cause your license to be suspended up to a year. A third conviction can revoke your license for up to two years.