Colorado may have been the first state to fully legalize marijuana, but the concept is still new. Many Coloradoans are unaware of laws that still govern the plant. In addition to this, many people assume since the plant is legal, they can get away with driving under the influence.
Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC has put together this guide of some of Colorado’s marijuana DUI laws. This information should not be taken as legal advice. You should seek the help of a DUI attorney if you have been arrested or charged with DUI involving THC.
Marijuana DUI Lawyer in Colorado Springs
You may think a judge will not send you to jail for a DUI, but you should think again. A judge may make an example out of you and sentence you to the maximum jail term. Not only this, but you will have to pay expensive fines and surcharges upon conviction. Take the first step in your defense and contact Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC.
We will fight on your behalf and make sure the court hears your side of the story. Call (719) 328-1616 to schedule a case consultation. We defend clients in areas such as Colorado Springs, Denver, and Littleton.
- Does Colorado Have a Legal Limit for Marijuana?
- Problems with Colorado’s Marijuana Limit
- What is Expressed Consent?
- Can a DUI be Sealed or Expunged?
- Additional Resources
Does Colorado Have a Legal Limit for Marijuana?
Driving under the influence of any intoxicating substance, such as marijuana, has long been a violation of Colorado law. Drinking and driving laws have included a presumption of intoxication based on a driver’s blood or breath alcohol content levels. When it comes to marijuana, though, Colorado and other states had no measurement indicating when someone high on marijuana is too stoned to drive.
However, that all changed in 2013 when House Bill 1325 was passed. This bill created a presumption of intoxication for marijuana, which is 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood. With this law, a judge or jury could now infer a driver was under the influence of marijuana or other THC products based on a blood test.
This 5 nanogram threshold doesn’t necessarily prove a driver is under the influence of marijuana. Instead, it gives the judge or jury permission to assume a driver was too stoned to drive without requiring prosecutors to introduce additional facts.
Problems with Colorado’s Marijuana Limit
The primary concern with Colorado’s 5 nanogram limit is the level may not be an accurate measurement of a driver’s impairment. In a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it does not take much to raise someone’s THC level to 5 nanograms. In fact, the report noted a single hit from a joint could be enough to elevate THC levels to 15 nanograms, which is three times the legal limit.
Another problem with the state’s THC DUI laws is the plant can stay in the bloodstream for days and even weeks. Not only this, but the NHTSA report found that marijuana affects everyone differently. Someone who has been consuming the plant for some time will likely not be affected by 5 nanograms in their system, while someone new to marijuana may feel the effects.
According to NHTSA “It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone.”
What is Expressed Consent?
An officer will ask you to submit to a chemical test of your urine or blood after you’ve been placed under arrest. Under state law, you have given your expressed consent to chemical testing by law enforcement by driving in Colorado. You have the right to refuse chemical testing but doing so comes with consequences.
Refusing a chemical test will result in a license suspension. But keep in mind; the arresting officer or the DMV will suspend your license if your results come back positive, even if you are never convicted. In addition to this, you will also be required to complete a mandatory drug treatment program and obtain SR-22 insurance.
Prosecutors will have a difficult time convincing a judge or jury you were stoned while driving without the results from a chemical test. You should be aware that prosecutors can use your refusal as evidence of guilt, but a DUI defense attorney can challenge their argument.
Can A DUI be Sealed or Expunged?
A DUI conviction will haunt you long after your criminal sentence has been fulfilled. An arrest, charge or convection will be marked on your criminal record, which is public information. Employers, lenders, insurance companies and schools will see this and result in denied opportunities. Unfortunately, Colorado law does not allow traffic violations, including DUI, to be sealed or expunged.
There are limited circumstances where the offense can be removed from your criminal record, such as:
- You were arrested but never charged
- You were charged, but the charges were dismissed or dropped
- You were acquitted and at least 10 years have passed since the disposition of your case
The inability to seal or expunge a DUI is an important reason why a defense attorney is critical. They can fight to have the DUI reduced to a lesser offense, or have the charge dropped.
FAQ: Cannabis and Driving | Colorado Department of Transportation – The Colorado DOT created an FAQ form on marijuana and driving. Follow the link to find answers to questions such as how THC effects driving, what if the plant is used medicinally and how law enforcement can determine if you are too stoned to drive. You can also gain access to drugged driving stats and information on the 320 movement, a campaign to plan a ride before you’re too high.
Driving Under the Influence | Colorado Revised Statutes – Read the section of the revised statutes governing driving under the influence. You can read the precise legal definition of the crime and find out if having a medical marijuana card is enough probable cause to ask a driver to submit to a blood test.
DUI Defense Attorney in Colorado Springs
The attorneys at Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC do not believe the arbitrary 5 nanogram limit set by the Colorado Legislature is a true indication of a driver’s impairment. It’s crucial you gain legal representation. You will not be able to seal or expunge the offense if convicted, which can result in lost opportunities.
Take the first step in your defense and contact Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC. Call (719) 328-1616 to schedule a free case consultation. We are based in Colorado Springs, but assist clients in other counties including Denver County and Arapahoe County.