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DUIs and Marijuana: What You Need to Know

DUIs and Marijuana: What You Need to Know

By on Feb 4, 2020 in Blog, Boulder Colorado Law Advice Blogs, DUI Blogs |

In the state of Colorado, marijuana is legal. That can make it confusing as to when it is and is not okay to be under the influence of marijuana – or be actively smoking or otherwise ingesting it. The fact is, even in Colorado, it’s possible to get a DUI for driving while under the influence of marijuana. Just like with alcohol, it may be a legal substance, but it does still impair your ability to safely operate a vehicle.

What are the Laws in Colorado?

Both medical and recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, but public consumption is not. That means you can consume marijuana in any form while you are at home or any private residence, but not in public places such as sports or entertainment venues, restaurants, and public transportation.

The laws around driving while under the influence of marijuana are also similar to those around driving drunk. Both alcohol and marijuana impair judgement, response time, and therefore a person’s ability to drive safely. That means if an officer suspects you’re driving while drunk or high, they may pull you over to determine your sobriety.

What is the Legal Limit for Marijuana?

Unlike with alcohol, however, there is no “legal limit” for marijuana by which an officer or judge can say you are too stoned to drive. This means there is a legal grey area when you’re hit with a marijuana DUI. If your DUI blood test shows 5 nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of your blood, that may be enough for a judge and/or jury to convict you of a marijuana DUI.

Penalties Involved for a DUI of Marijuana are the Same as Alcohol

If it’s decided that there is enough evidence you were driving under the influence of marijuana and therefore were not able to safely operate your vehicle, there are potentially serious repercussions. These include a fine, jail time, loss of your driver’s license, restricted driving once you get your license back, and increased insurance costs. If at all possible, it’s best to hire a Colorado lawyer to defend your case and help minimize the repercussions.

What Will an Officer Look for Before Issuing a DUI of Marijuana?

Before pulling you over, there are a few indicators an officer will look out for. Some will indicate intoxication specifically, while others are an offense in themselves. Either way, a few things that may cause an officer to pull you over include violating Colorado traffic laws, weaving in and out of your lane, and driving too quickly or too slowly.

Once an officer has pulled you over, if he notices you appear stoned, smells marijuana, or sees marijuana or paraphernalia in your car, you’re likely to get a DUI of marijuana. If the officer sees any of the above indicators, they will likely require you to take a DUI blood test, since a DUI breath test will not indicate how much marijuana you recently consumed.

A DUI means a lot of expense and potential driving restrictions, whether it is for driving drunk or stoned. Your first step when arrested for either DUI should be to hire a criminal lawyer to help build your case and defend you in court. But what else happens after your arrest?

Getting a DUI Blood Test

If you’re arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence, you are required to take a test to determine your intoxication level. With alcohol, this can be either a DUI breath test or a DUI blood test. With marijuana, this must be a DUI blood test. Refusing to take this test has serious repercussions, so it’s best to do it.

Marijuana plant being held by a hand

You Have Several Possible Defenses in Court

Each case is different, so it’s best to have a criminal lawyer with experience in DUI of marijuana cases. However, there are a few key defenses your lawyer will likely look into:

  • Did the officer have probable cause to pull you over?
  • Was there reasonable basis for suspecting you of drug use or giving you a blood test?
  • Did the officer properly advise you of your rights?
  • Were improper procedures used in your DUI blood test?
  • Was your driving actually affected by marijuana?
  • Did you drive poorly for another reason unrelated to marijuana, such as being tired?

While these are the best options for defending yourself against Colorado DUI marijuana charges, it can still be difficult to defend yourself in court.

Getting an Experienced DUI Lawyer is Key

Your best bet to avoid being convicted of a DUI marijuana after your arrest is to hire a criminal defense lawyer experienced in Colorado DUI law. They will be your best bet at successfully arguing your case in court by finding anywhere that the officer or other officials mis-stepped – or simply placing doubt on whether you were truly too intoxicated to safely drive.

Call Phil Clark Law if You’ve Been Hit with a Marijuana DUI

If you’re in need of a Boulder lawyer to defend you in a DUI of marijuana case, give Phil Clark a call. With extensive experience as a defense lawyer in Colorado, he knows the intricacies of the state’s laws and legal system and will be able to find your best defense in court.

Phil Clark has practiced criminal law for over 25 years, first as a prosecutor for the Denver District Attorney’s Office and now as a criminal defense attorney in Boulder. Having criminal charges on your permanent record can have a huge impact on your future. A criminal attorney can help keep your record clean and save a lot of trouble caused by charges such as a DUI, assault, or domestic violence.

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