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Legalization of Marijuana and What It Means for DUI Cases


The legalization of cannabis in Colorado is starting to cause a headache for law enforcement. Increase in cannabis use will inevitably lead to an increase in the number of people driving under the influence of cannabis. The problem is that many police officers are inadequately trained to assess the sobriety of someone under the influence of marijuana and the standardized field sobriety tests do not necessarily allow an officer to come to a fair conclusion as to whether to arrest a suspect. Obviously, road side breath testing is not an option as the preliminary alcohol screening tests only test for alcohol. With more people smoking marijuana and driving, more officers will have to go through training to become so called “Drug Recognition Experts”.

Many people who smoke marijuana legally are firmly convinced that they can also drive legally after smoking it. They may be right. The problem is how to test for this. People who smoke regularly have a higher tolerance for cannabis and may be fine to drive even with high levels of THC in their system. Blood and Urine testing may merely confirm the presence of cannabis or THC in a person's system at the time of driving, but cannot necessarily determine levels of impairment in a given individual. There is no bright line of pass or fail.

Some States are considering making it illegal to drive with any measurable amount of drug in a person's blood. This would be patently unfair as it fails to take into account the nature of the drug, and people's individual tolerance levels. What about coffee? This is a “drug” but if anything, it helps a person to focus while driving. The same could be said about a number of different medications. Under a zero tolerance law, people would be criminalized for driving with prescribed medications that do not in any way effect their ability to drive safely, and may instead help a person to focus on driving.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Department of Transportation as begun a $1-million public service campaign called “Drive High, Get a DUI”

If you have any questions about the legality of driving after smoking marijuana, please contact us for a free consultation. As a specialist DUI Defense Law Firm, we have successfully defended many people for driving under the influence of drugs.