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Colorado Supreme Court rules DUI offenders can still use medical marijuana


A DUI alcohol conviction in Colorado can come with numerous setbacks including a loss of driver’s license, costly fines and even jail time.

Medical marijuana patients however are allowed to continue to ingest cannabis even if they have a DUI, unless marijuana undermines the specified goals of sentencing.

The Colorado Supreme Court upheld a state law that allows probationers to use medical marijuana unless they were convicted of a crime involving medical marijuana or cannabis conflicts with a person’s sentencing, Westword reports.

The 2015 law was challenged by a 2016 DUI case where El Paso County Court Judge Karla Hansen demanded a medical marijuana patient have her doctor testify in court on her need for the medication.

The patient provided her state-approved medical marijuana card and a signed letter for her doctor, Westword reports. The judge then denied the patient’s request to use medical marijuana as Hansen said she denies all medical marijuana for patients on probation. The case went to the state Supreme Court after a district court denied the patient’s appeal.

The state Supreme Court ruled judge Hansen’s blanket policy of preventing people on probation from using medical marijuana contradicts the state law. They also argued the authenticity of the patient’s card was not questioned so it doesn’t follow that she should be restricted from her medication.

Medical marijuana patient or not, getting a DUI in Colorado is a series crime. A driver can be issued a DUI if he or she has a BAC of .08 (DWAI with a BAC of .05) percent or higher, 5 nanograms or more of THC per on milliliter of blood or is intoxicated to the point he or she can no longer operate a vehicle safely.

Police officers can test DUIs through breath, urine and blood. Field tests include a one leg stand, a walk and turn, and seeing if an individual’s eyes can follow an object about a foot in front of them.

A first time DUI is considered a misdemeanor charge that includes 5 days to a year in prison, $600 to $1,000 in fines and 9 months of having a suspended license. A second DUI offense has a mandatory sentence of up to 10 days in jail, $600 to $1,500 in fines and a driving license suspended for a year. Penalties continue to increase for each subsequent DUIs, with severe penalties including 90 days to six years in prison, $2,000 to $500,000 in fines and up two years without a driver’s license.

Regardless if an offender is caught intoxicated by marijuana or alcohol at the time of their DUI, Colorado’s laws are tough on drivers under the influence. The best advice is to not drive intoxicated. If you do get a DUI, getting an attorney experienced in DUI laws can help improve your odds of staying out of prison.

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