The bill to advance a limit for THC in DUI blood testing was voted down by the full House Committee today. House Bill 1114 sought to establish an inference for blood limits in DUI cases.
House Bill 1114 would have created a legal inference if a blood test of a suspect in a drugged driving case resulted in 5 nanograms or more of THC per milliliter. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive element in marijuana.
Earlier this year, Colorado’s 24-member task force endorsed a bill that would create what is essentially a limit for marijuana DUI cases. Similar to the inference created if a person’s blood or breath test in a DUI case comes back over .05 (DWAI) or at least .08 (DUI), this bill would allow a jury to be instructed by a judge that the jury may infer intoxication by way of marijuana ingestion if a valid blood test showed a TCH level of 5 nanograms or more of TCH in the blood. Because the bill would have created an inference, and not a per se limit, DUI attorneys would be legally allowed to argue that a person is not impaired by the test result.
Since 2010, lawmakers have tried to establish a marijuana limit for drivers in Colorado. In the past three attempts, a per se limit was proposed that would have made a separate crime for driving with 5ng or more of active THC in the blood a crime. This year’s attempt was different in that it would have created a legal inference, but not a per se DUI crime, separate from the common DUI charge.
With the advancement of medical marijuana, and the recent passage of Amendment 64, law enforcement has been very vocal about prosecuting more cases involving stoned drivers. There has been increased training and focus on enforcing the DUI laws against drugged drivers. The Denver Police Department constantly warns the public about increased efforts to pursue stoned drivers.
The fact remains, however, that there is no science to back up a number. DUI attorney Jay Tiftickjian was recently interviewed by 9News Colorado, and discussed the lack of scientific studies to try to confirm a hard number for marijuana impairment.