Colorado was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use back in 2012. And while you’re now free to enjoy, remember that it’s illegal to drive while under the influence of any drug, even prescriptions and legal marijuana.
If you drive while drugged, you can be arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI).
That’s why understanding Colorado drugged driving laws is so important. Today, our expert on Colorado’s driving laws, attorney Vee Iyer with the Iyer Law Office in Denver will explain things in more detail.
And if you’re already facing drugged driving charges, our team of professionals can represent you in your DUI case. We will advise you honestly and work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome. You’re welcome to get in touch for a free case evaluation where we can determine the next steps for your particular situation.
About Drugged Driving in Colorado
According to The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), we have what’s known as Colorado’s Express Consent Law requiring all drivers to submit to a chemical test if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that they are driving under the influence or their ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired because of alcohol, drugs or both.
If you refuse to take the test you will likely and immediately lose your driver’s license for a year, be required to use a mandatory ignition interlock for two years, as well as attend alcohol education and therapy classes.
You may also be classified as a persistent drunk driver.
And although recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, you can be arrested for driving under the influence because marijuana affects your reaction time, short-term memory, hand-eye coordination, concentration, and perception of time and distance.
Colorado’s established marijuana impairment level is five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milliliter of whole blood. THC is the active psychoactive component of marijuana.
Here are a few questions a few questions and answers to help you better understand Colorado’s drugged driving laws.
Q: How does smoking or ingesting marijuana affect my ability to drive a vehicle?
A: You cannot judge your own level of impairment. Any amount of marijuana consumption can put you at risk of driving impaired. As we said above, a slower reaction time and altered perception of time and distance can quickly put you and other drivers on the road in grave danger.
Q: Is there a legal limit for marijuana impairment while operating a vehicle?
A: Colorado law specifies that drivers with five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their whole blood can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). However, no matter the level of THC, law enforcement officers are able to base arrests on any impaired behavior they observe when pulling you over.
Q: What if I use marijuana medicinally? Is it still drugged driving?
A: If any substance has impaired your ability to operate a motor vehicle, it is illegal for you to be driving. It doesn’t matter if that substance is prescribed or legal. The same applies for a variety of other medicines, such as benzodiazepines (Valium or Xanax). Impairment is impairment, and you can be arrested for drugged driving.
Q: Are there additional penalties for marijuana-impaired driving if there are children in the vehicle?
A: If there are children present in the vehicle, there could be additional charges for impaired drivers including child abuse or endangerment. Please schedule a consultation with us to discuss your case if you’re facing added charges for having children in the vehicle. The more complex the case, the better it is to have professional representation.
Q: Is it legal to have marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia in the passenger cabin of the vehicle?
A: Like open alcohol containers, Colorado’s open container law makes it illegal to have marijuana in the passenger area of a vehicle in an open container, a container with a broken seal, or if there is evidence that marijuana has been consumed. It is also illegal to consume marijuana on any public roadway.
Q: How can law enforcement determine if I am impaired by the use of marijuana?
A: Once marijuana was legalized in the state, Colorado Law Enforcement Officers went through in-depth training in order to detect any impairment caused by drugs. Many Colorado Law Enforcement Officers have received training in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE). Colorado law enforcement agencies also have trained Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) to detect impairment from a variety of substances.
Q: What if I’m pulled over for impairment – can I refuse to take a blood test to detect THC?
A: Keep in mind Colorado’s Express Consent Law in this situation. Colorado revokes driving privileges for people who fail to cooperate with the chemical testing process if requested by an officer during the investigation of an alcohol or drug-related DUI arrest.
Any driver who refuses to take a blood test will immediately be considered a high-risk driver. Consequences can include mandatory ignition interlock for two years, and level two alcohol education and therapy classes as specified by law. These penalties are administrative and are applied regardless of a criminal conviction.
Q: Are there stricter penalties for people who are arrested driving under the influence of a combination of marijuana and alcohol or other drugs?
A: Drugged driving is comparable to drunk driving and both are DUIs. The penalties are the same regardless of the substance or the combination of substances. But when substances are combined, there is a greater degree of impairment. This increases the chances of crashes, as well as subsequent penalties and charges.
Understanding Colorado’s drugged driving laws and how they affect you is important. It could mean a criminal conviction, jail and the loss of your driver’s license. You must take any charge of DUI very seriously. If you are facing charges, our Attorney Vee Iyer from the Iyer Law Office in Denver is here to fight for you. Call or contact us today for a free case evaluation and let us protect your rights.