Denver, CO- It’s been six months since recreational marijuana went on sale in Colorado and since then the state has raked in almost $11 million in tax revenue. And according to a large detox center, the state is raking in the stoned driving arrests, as well.
Arapahoe House, a large community detox center with 3 locations throughout Colorado, said they are seeing increases in the number of patients charged with marijuana DUI. After tracking data between January 1st, when recreational pot sales began, and May 31st, the facility found that 15 percent of their patients have been charged with driving under the influence of pot, up from 8 percent.
“We’re only seeing recreational legalization in it’s infancy, but it’s already having an impact on public safety,” Arapahoe House spokeswoman Kate Edmundson told News 7 in Denver.
Arapahoe House president Art Schut said the findings can shed light on a growing public safety concern and caution individuals if they are going to get high don’t get behind the wheel.
Individuals charged with driving under the influence of marijuana in Colorado must participate in a mandatory drug rehabilitation program and can expect to pay upwards of $10,000 in fines, penalties and legal fees.
As the number of stoned drivers have increased, violent crimes in the state have decreased by 2.5 percent. Whether that is related to marijuana legalization remains to be seen, but pot advocates would like to think so.
Naturally, stoned driving arrests in Colorado have increased as marijuana has become more widely available in the state. But data such as this is often used by anti-pot activists to explain why the drug should remain illegal. It’s somewhat of a moot argument since drunken driving is a far larger public safety concern than stone driving.
A January study showed that an alcohol-impaired driver is more likely to cause a dangerous traffic collision. Any mind-altering substance increased crash risk, but drivers under the influence of alcohol are nine times more likely to cause a deadly DUI accident than motorists under the influence of marijuana or other drugs.
The important thing to remember is that it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol and any drug whether it is marijuana, a prescription drug or an illicit drug. Just don’t do it, it’s expensive and the penalties can be really harsh. You may be able to avoid jail, but you’ll probably lose your license, have to go to rehab and will have a charge on your record. Unless you can avoid conviction.
The important thing to remember when facing a stoned driving charge is you need an attorney to work on your defense. For the prosecution to secure a marijuana DUI conviction, they must be able to prove that you were impaired at the time of your arrests. Because marijuana is metabolized by the body differently than alcohol, impairment can be difficult to prove and can be used to build an effect DUI defense.
Anyone facing a driving under the influence of marijuana needs to reach out to a DUI attorney in their area immediately.