There is a common misconception about marijuana use and driving a vehicle in the state of Colorado. Too many drivers assume that if marijuana is legal to possess, it is legal to use while operating a vehicle. In reality, marijuana is a controlled substance – like alcohol – and it is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, regardless of whether you can legally purchase it in the state.
Although marijuana is legalized in the state of Colorado, you must realize that it is illegal to drive under the influence of this substance. If you do, you could be charged with a DUI and face substantial penalties. Driving while under the influence of marijuana can decrease your response times, make you drowsy, and even impair your ability to think rationally on the road.
So, if marijuana is legal and yet it is still a DUI to use it while driving, what are the consequences of being under the influence? How is it determined that you are under the influence of a legal substance?
Understanding the Marijuana DUI Laws of Colorado
The laws that define what it means to be under the influence or impaired by marijuana are hard to understand – and they can be easily molded into what the prosecution needs to convict you of a DUI. There are three methods for considering a person’s inability to drive, which include:
- Any amount that equates to being under the influence. You do not have to be above the threshold to be convicted of a DUI, especially if the amount in your blood is obviously impairing your ability to drive safely – such as making you drive erratically, or falling asleep at the wheel.
- Above the threshold. If your blood tests for higher than the legal amount of THC allowed during driving, then you could be charged with driving under the influence – regardless of whether you exhibited poor driving behavior or not.
- Your behavior or actions. The prosecution can prove that you were legally impaired, regardless of blood tests, if your behavior or actions while driving made you obviously impaired.
Colorado law enforcement is trained to detect the impairment of marijuana. They have the ability to physically detect the signs of impairment, which can give them grounds to request further testing. Colorado also employs the implied consent laws, which means that any driver must consent to chemical testing. If a driver refuses, he or she will face automatic license suspensions. Even if you refuse chemical testing, you can still be convicted of a DUI for marijuana. In fact, your actions, behaviors, or even being in possession of the drug while operating a vehicle can be all that the prosecution needs to prove that you are guilty of driving while impaired. If you refuse chemical testing for a marijuana DUI stop, you can also have an IID installed for up to two years, as well as required alcohol and marijuana therapy classes and rehabilitation.
Speak with a DUI Attorney Regarding Your Marijuana Arrest
If you have been arrested or accused of driving while under the influence of marijuana, you need to contact a Colorado defense attorney right away. Choosing an attorney who specializes in these types of cases, and one who can help you avoid the harsh penalties of a DUI, is wise. Even first-time offenders could face harsh fines and jail time. Contact Christian A. Schwaner, P.C. today regarding your case by calling 719-577-9700, or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.