Since the recreational sale and use of marijuana was legalized in 2014, many people have wondered how the Colorado’s relatively permissive policy would affect the incidence of driving while high. While it is common knowledge that driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is in violation of Colorado law, many people are surprised to learn the law does also criminalizes driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs that substantially affect a person’s ability to drive. In fact, The Columbian reports that a Colorado Department of Transportation study indicates that 21 percent of recreational marijuana users were unaware of the fact that they could be cited for DUI while driving high.
Because marijuana DUI citations are treated the same as alcohol-related DUIs, the impact of marijuana legalization on stoned driving has been the subject of much speculation. According to a story published in The Denver Post, the Colorado State Patrol reports that 674 of 5,546 DUI citations it issued in 2014 were due to suspected marijuana use. Furthermore, in 354 of these citations, marijuana was believed to be the only substance involved.
Marijuana-related DUIs can have serious consequences
While the data above indicates that marijuana-related DUI is less of a problem than alcohol DUI, recreational marijuana users should not be under the mistaken impression that authorities treat stoned driving any less seriously. As noted above, marijuana-related DUI is prosecuted under the general Colorado DUI statute, meaning that the potential consequences are the same as those involving alcohol. These may include the following:
- Significant fines
- Community Service
- Drug counseling
- Jail time
Fortunately, there are often many ways that an experienced Colorado DUI defense attorney can help people who are facing allegations of driving under the influence of marijuana. Determining whether a person is under the influence of marijuana often involves a subjective analysis of a person’s behavior and appearance, meaning that what one person considers to be a sign of impairment another may believe is perfectly normal behavior. In addition, many of the signs of marijuana impairment for which law enforcement is trained to look could also be attributed to other causes as well. For example, while a person with bloodshot eyes may be under the influence of marijuana, he or she may also simply be suffering from seasonal allergies. Similarly, delayed reaction time may be a sign that someone is high, but it could also stem from fatigue.
In addition to challenging any evidence that the prosecution suggests may indicate impairment directly, your lawyer also may challenge the way in which any evidence was collected. If it is determined that law enforcement violated your constitutional rights during a traffic stop, the evidence collected against you may be inadmissible in court, potentially forcing the state to drop its case or resulting in a dismissal.
Contact a Denver DUI defense attorney today to schedule a free consultation
Anyone who is facing a DUI case in Colorado should retain legal counsel as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call the Tiftickjian Law Firm today at (303) DUI-5280.