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Colorado Issues (Slightly) Fewer Marijuana DUIs in 2015
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Colorado Issues (Slightly) Fewer Marijuana DUIs in 2015

 

With the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, concerns about driving under the influence of marijuana have heightened. Are the roads more or less dangerous since Amendment 64 was passed?

 

Colorado State Patrol has only been tracking marijuana impaired driving citations for two years, but the numbers have gone down since the first year of tracking – even if they’ve only gone down slightly.

 

In 2014, 5,546 citations were given for drug and alcohol related driving offenses. Of those citations, 354 – or 6.4 percent – involved only marijuana. In 2015, the number of citations decreased to 4,546 with 347 citations – 7.6 percent – involving only marijuana. Although the percent of marijuana citations has slightly increased, the overall number of citations and the number of marijuana citations has decreased.

 

By tracking marijuana-related citations, Colorado is hoping to make sure that the roads are safe for anyone traveling throughout the state. In addition, 64 Colorado State Troopers are trained in expert drug recognition to be able to tell when a driver is impaired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

 

With marijuana legalization, many users don’t realize that driving under the influence of marijuana is a crime. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) found that a shocking 51 percent of marijuana users didn’t think they would receive a citation for driving while under the influence of marijuana. To further support this, nearly 55 percent of marijuana users drove a car within 2 hours of using the drug.

 

While the Colorado State Patrol or CDOT can’t suggest an appropriate amount of time to wait until you are no longer impaired by marijuana, the “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign advocates simply not driving after consuming marijuana.

 

What is the Law Regarding Marijuana and Driving

 

What is the Law Regarding Marijuana and Driving?

 

While some people don’t believe that marijuana can affect their driving ability, it can be difficult to measure your own level of impairment. CDOT asserts that consuming any amount of marijuana puts you at risk for driving under the influence.

 

Law enforcement officers in Colorado base drugged driving arrests on observations of impairment – slow reactions, red or watery eyes, dilated pupils, strange behaviors, or unusual smells – but the law says that drivers with 5 nanograms of active THC in their blood are over the legal limit.

 

Marijuana advocates, however, can’t get behind the “science” of detecting THC in the blood since research shows that THC stays in the blood of prolonged users for quite a long time. This can lead to numerous false arrests and convictions, because regardless of whether someone has consumed marijuana recently, it could show up as them being under the influence.

 

If you are pulled over on suspicion of drugged driving, Colorado has an implied consent law in place. That means if you don’t cooperate with law enforcement to take a chemical test, you will be considered a “high-risk driver” and your driving privileges will be revoked. You may also be required to complete a level two alcohol education and therapy class, and have an ignition interlock device installed in your car for two years. And these are only the administrative penalties. A criminal conviction can result in further penalties.

 

Colorado Marijuana Defense Lawyer

 

Criminal Penalties of Drugged Driving in Colorado

 

The criminal penalties for drugged driving in Colorado depend upon your criminal history. You will face different penalties if you are convicted as a first-time offender than you will if you are a multiple-time offender.

 

First Offense

 

If you are charged with a DUI for the first time, you will face:

 

  • County jail imprisonment for a mandatory minimum of 5 days and a maximum term of 1 year
  • A fine between $600 and $1,000
  • 48 to 96 hours of community service
  • Probation period up to 2 years

 

If you are charged with a DWAI (driving while ability impaired) because you failed to meet the level for DUI impairment, you will face:

 

  • County jail imprisonment for a mandatory minimum of 2 days and a maximum term of 180 days
  • A fine between $200 and $500
  • 24 to 48 hours of community service
  • Probation period up to 2 years

 

Second Offense

 

A second offense has more severe consequences than a first offense:

 

  • County jail imprisonment for a mandatory minimum of 10 days and a maximum term of 1 year
  • A fine between $600 and $1,500
  • 48 to 120 hours of community service
  • Probation period up to 2 years

 

Third Offense and Beyond

 

  • County jail imprisonment for a mandatory minimum of 60 days and a maximum term of 1 year
  • A fine between $600 and $1,500
  • 48 to 120 hours of community service
  • Probation period up to 2 years
  • Mandatory participation in an alcohol and drug driving safety education or treatment program

 

So even though marijuana is legal, driving while under the influence of marijuana is a crime. But it’s a crime that you should fight so you don’t have to suffer the serious and often life-changing consequences. Contact an experienced drugged driving attorney today to protect your rights.

 

 

About the Author:

 

Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state.  She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.