Since recreational marijuana usage was legalized in Colorado, the state has been on the cutting edge of the issues related to DUI and marijuana. A local woman’s acquittal for marijuana DUI in July shines a spotlight on some of these issues.
Per Se Limits: Marijuana vs. Alcohol
Per se limits constitute the legally defined volume of a substance in a defendant’s system that establishes a presumption of intoxication. In the case of marijuana DUI laws, the per se limit in Colorado is five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. In the case of alcohol, the per se limit is 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC). It is often difficult (but not impossible) to defeat the presumption of intoxication in an alcohol case where the defendant’s blood levels are above the limit. However, defenses are still available. Often the best strategy in these cases is to challenge the accuracy of the results on technical or procedural grounds.
In the July marijuana case referenced above, the driver’s toxicology test yielded a result of 19 nanograms per milliliter—nearly four times the legal limit. The case is instructive as to how a legal defense to marijuana DUI can be made even when the results are clearly over the per se legal limits.
Blood results showing the presence of a substance in excess of the legal limits do not require a jury to convict of DUI. This is especially true in the case of marijuana related DUI charges because there is no current scientific consensus as to what concentration of THC in the system reliably predicts impairment of motor skills, reaction times, and perception (the key functions required for driving). This is true for a number of reasons, listed below:
- The length of time THC remains in the system after its effects wear off,
- The different effects the drug has on different individual users,
- The potential in chronic users to develop a tolerance, and
- Few objective studies of the subject have been performed until recently.
For each of the above reasons, it is possible to make a convincing case that a person charged with marijuana related DUI (DUI-D) may in fact not have been under the influence at the time of driving, even if the levels exceed the legal limit.
Contact a Denver DUI Attorney if Arrested
If you have been arrested for DUI or DUI-D, you may have a defense, even if your blood tests show you above the legal limit. But in order to effectively make that case, the assistance of an experienced defense lawyer is critical. The attorneys at Tiftickjian Law Firm are on the cutting edge of drunk driving and drugged driving law. Call us today for a free consultation. We know how to mount the most effective defense available to you based on the unique facts of your case, and if retained, we will fight for you.