Colorado is one of only four states, along with Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, in which it is legal to purchase and consume marijuana. With the right to enjoy marijuana comes the responsibility to do so in accordance with the rules and regulations of the state. Perhaps the most important law concerns marijuana and driving. Just as it is illegal to drive while impaired by alcohol consumption, it is unlawful to drive while impaired by marijuana consumption. The substances are different, but the prohibition with regard to driving is the same. It is important that residents and visitors of the state of Colorado understand state laws regarding marijuana and driving. If you have been charged with marijuana DUI or DWAI you need an experienced Denver DUI attorney. Your finances, freedom, reputation, and ability to drive depend on it.
Blood-THC-Content is the Measurement for Marijuana DUI/DWAI
Marijuana, as you surely know, is a very different substance from alcohol. The active ingredient in marijuana is THC-9. Typically, this ingredient enters the body through the inhalation of the marijuana or through ingesting of the drug in its edible form (e.g. pot brownies, gummies, etc.). This is different from alcohol, which is consumed in fluid form. The effects of alcohol last a relatively short time compared to the effects of marijuana. The impairment induced by alcohol with regard to driving is measured in terms of Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). This test is typically administered by breathalyzer – a device that you blow into. For marijuana, impairment is measured in terms of nanograms of active THC-9 per milliliter of blood. The measurement is commonly obtained via a whole blood draw. Importantly, the presence of THC in the bloodstream can last much longer than that of alcohol. As such, it is possible to produce a marijuana test justifying a DUI charge on a day in which you did not even consume the drug, especially for chronic users. For many, especially medical marijuana patients, this extended presence in the system poses a significant problem.
Consent to Marijuana Testing is Expressed in the Decision to Drive
Importantly, Colorado law implies your consent to marijuana testing the moment you choose to operate a motor vehicle on the state’s roads and highways. So, if an officer making a lawful stop with probable cause asks you to submit to a chemical test of your blood, you face serious penalties if you withhold your consent. Specifically, you face a one to three year suspension of your driver’s license, depending on whether the ensuing DUI or DWAI charge is your first offense or not. If, after the stop, arrest, and license suspension, you are convicted for DUI or DWAI, you face additional penalties of fines, fees, community, service, and even jail time, especially if the arrest was in conjunction with an accident that resulted in personal injuries to other persons. If you have been charged with marijuana or alcohol DUI or DWAI in Colorado, contact a skilled and experienced Denver DUI defense attorney right away.