What signs indicate to police that a driver is under the influence of marijuana?

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Poster for DUI MarijuanaThere are many signs that indicate to a police officer that a driver has been smoking marijuana. The primary signs are:


Marijuana puts off an strong and easily detectable odor. The more recent the marijuana use the stronger the odor. A key to keep police off your back is to make sure that you or your car does not smell like marijuana while you drive.

Bloodshot, watery eyes

This is a sign that police officers are trained to look for. In fact, the Colorado Department of Transportation is currently running a public service awareness campaign, and one of the posters they are using shows a closeup of an eye with the caption “You can’t hide driving under the influence of cannabis.”

Whitening of the tongue

Using marijuana may reduce the amount of saliva the mouth would produce otherwise. As a result, the mouth can ‘whiten’ and the user suffer from dry mouth.

Admission to consuming marijuana

This is a dead give away. Just remember that police officers have a lot of experience in pulling people over and looking for drug use. They can be very resourceful in getting people to make an admission of drug use.

These are a few of the signs that police officers will look for to find out whether a driver is using marijuana.

Colorado Police Officers Are Being Trained to Detect Driver Impairment

Colorado is focused on finding impaired drivers. To do so, they send a portion of their officers to do extensive training and become Drug Recognition Experts. Chosen officers participate in training given by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. At the training the officers learn advanced techniques to detect impaired driving, and signs to look for after pulling a suspect over. There are 575 total police officers classified as DREs, and the Colorado State Patrol have 64 of those.

Colorado’s Consent to Search Law

One of the primary purposes that police officers look for signs of marijuana use is due to Colorado’s consent to search law. Under the law, every driver on Colorado’s roads is deemed to have given their consent to be tested for drug use under certain circumstances. That consent extends to blood, breath, urine, or saliva tests. The police officer can act on the implied consent and demand a test if the police officer has a reasonable basis for believing that a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a driver has any of the above mentioned indicators of drug use, that can be used to form the reasonable basis for a test.

Refusing to take an implied consent test carries its own consequences. For a first-time refusal the Department of Transportation will revoke the driver’s license for a full year, two years for a second refusal, and three years for more refusals. Not only that, but the driver’s refusal to take the test can be used at trial if the case goes that far.

These are some of the signs police officers look for to detect marijuana use. As you can see, Colorado’s police force is trained to find it and closely looking for it. Be aware before you drive of the risks involved.

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