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DUI Enforcement Trend

DUI or Driving under the Influence (also known as DUI; DUI per se; DUID – driving under the influence of drugs; drunk driving; drinking and driving; driving under the influence of marijuana, cannabis, THC, pot, and weed, stoned while driving, driving high; DWI- driving while intoxicated; DWAI – driving while under the influence; and in other states called OUI – operating under the influence, and OWAI – operating while ability impaired) is the most likely criminal charge or violation of law individuals will encounter in their lifetime (except minor traffic violations, i.e. speeding, weaving, running red lights). According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations over 1.2 million people were charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-…).  This equates to more than 1 arrest for every 150 licensed drivers. Males are more likely than females at a ratio of 15.1 to 7.9 percent respectively.  (Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Crime in the United States: 2011”)

The nation-wide trend regarding drinking and driving is to lower the legal limit of the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) or breath alcohol content (BrAC) while increasing the possible penalties or consequences. For example, in Colorado, DUI per se used to require the driver’s BAC to be .15 grams of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of blood or greater, then the law changed requiring the blood alcohol content to be .10 grams of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of blood or greater to the current DUI law of .08 grams of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of blood or greater. Likewise, mandatory jail time is required in many cases in Colorado with 2nd or repeated convictions of driving with drugs or alcohol charges or with a BAC over .2 grams of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of blood.

The latest trend in Colorado is to increase arrests for driving under the influence of marijuana, or more appropriately THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive chemical found in cannabis.  Legislatures attempted to establish a level for the amount of THC in a person system to determine when a person was high, or too high to drive.  The proposed law was defeated multiple times since there is a lack of evidence to support a base line for when a person is too high to drive.  However, the measure was added to a bill at the last minute effectively sneaking it in without proper hearings and scientific evidence of the amount of THC when a person is too high to drive. The new DUI-THC law allows the prosecution to instruct a jury that if the defendant driver’s blood contains 5 nanograms or more of THC, the jury has permission to infer that the driver was under the influence of marijuana.  This is also known as a “permissible inference.”  The main concern with this law is that people could have THC in their system long after using marijuana and not be high.

Law enforcement officers throughout the state of Colorado are being re-trained to build a case against a driver they believe uses marijuana.  Officers are asking drivers to do voluntary roadside tests.  Each time a person misses a clue on the test the officer takes note to use against the driver.

In the past there has not been statistics maintained for the number of driver’s driving under the influence of marijuana.  Medical and recreational marijuana attorneys believe that the current trend of increasing the arrests for THC driving is to create statistics to show that marijuana has a significant problem when in reality the problem might not exist.  These statistics will be used to scare the general public into believing there is a problem on the roads.


This is not legal advice

This information is not legal advice and cannot be deemed legal advice.  Because the laws for DUI, DWAI, or any related drinking and driving or driving under the influence of drugs or marijuana change on a regular basis, a person charged with DUI, DWAI or any related offense is strongly encourage to research the laws through the Colorado Statutes for any changes or hire a DUI attorney / DUI lawyer that is familiar with the laws of Colorado.  The Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC has several attorneys that provide free consultations for people charged with DUI, DWAI or other criminal offenses.

Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC