What to Do If You Are Facing DUI Marijuana Charges in Colorado
In Colorado, both the recreational and medical use of marijuana is legal. However, similar to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, prescription drugs, or other substances, driving while under the influence of marijuana can lead to a DUI charge. This article explains how cannabis intoxication is proven in a DUI marijuana case and the potential penalties faced if convicted.
Are you facing charges of driving under the influence of marijuana? If so, you should speak with an attorney right away. At Flesch & Beck, our skilled team of Colorado DUI lawyers can take immediate steps to protect your rights and develop a strategy to get you the best possible outcome. Contact us today to arrange a free, confidential consultation.
Understanding Marijuana DUIs in Colorado
Colorado treats marijuana-related DUI similarly to alcohol-related DUIs. The state has set the legal limit for THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, allowed in a driver’s bloodstream while operating their vehicle. The amount of THC allowed is five nanograms of THC per ml. of blood. Motorists found to have over this amount can be charged with DUI.
Methods Used to Determine Intoxication
Law enforcement utilizes a range of methods to determine a suspect’s level of intoxication. These methods include the following:
The first step in detecting marijuana intoxication generally involves observation of the driver by the police. Signs of intoxication, such as impaired motor skills, delayed reaction times, and altered behavior during a traffic stop, can prompt an arrest. The strong odor of marijuana, red or watery eyes, and slurred speech can also indicate THC intoxication.
Field Sobriety Tests
Police officers may conduct standardized field sobriety tests to determine whether a driver’s ability to drive is impaired. These tests include the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. While field sobriety tests were designed to identify alcohol intoxication, they can also indicate impairment due to the use of cannabis.
Drug Recognition Experts
If officers suspect marijuana intoxication, a drug recognition expert may be called to the scene. DREs are police officers who are specially trained to recognize the signs of impairment from various substances, including marijuana. They conduct a series of evaluations, including an examination of the driver’s eyes, checking their vital signs, and assessing their balance and coordination.
The most effective method used to prove marijuana intoxication is chemical testing. This typically involves administering a blood test to measure the motorist’s THC levels in the bloodstream. Under Colorado’s Express Consent Law, if a driver suspected of DUI refuses to submit to a blood test, they run the risk of having their driver’s license automatically revoked.
Penalties for a Marijuana DUI Conviction
If convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana in Colorado, you can face the following penalties:
- Five days to one year in jail
- Fines up to $1,000
- Driver's license suspension of up to nine months
- Up to 96 hours of community service
- Ten days to one year in jail
- Fines up to $1,500
- Driver's license suspension for up to one year
- Up to 120 hours of community service
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for two years after your license has been reinstated
Three or more convictions
- 60 days to one year in jail
- Fines ranging from $600 to $1,500
- Driver's license suspension of up to two years,
- The mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for two years after your license has been reinstated
What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Marijuana DUI
If you have been arrested for or charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, the first and most critical step is to speak with a criminal defense lawyer. If convicted, the consequences can change your life forever. That is why you need the expertise and guidance of an experienced attorney.
Your lawyer will investigate what took place before, during, and after your arrest to look for any errors made by the police or infringements of your legal rights. An attorney will also develop an appropriate defense strategy to get you the best possible outcome, which might include reduced or dropped charges.
Contact a DUI Defense Attorney in Colorado to Learn More
While the state sets forth a legal limit, determining drug-related impairment can be a complex process. As the methods to prove intoxication evolve, Colorado drivers must ensure they are aware of the laws governing marijuana DUIs and the serious consequences of a conviction.
Are you facing marijuana DUI charges? At Flesch & Beck, our team of Colorado DUI attorneys has extensive experience defending drivers against marijuana-related DUI charges. That experience gives us the tools to assess the methods used to show intoxication and create a legal strategy to ensure your rights and best interests are protected. Contact our office today to speak with an attorney for free.