Denver, CO- Marijuana is officially legal for recreational use in Colorado. And as people throughout the state flock to dispensaries to get their buds, they should be aware that although the marijuana laws have loosened, the DUI laws just got a lot tougher.
Lawmakers worked on developing a legal standard for marijuana intoxication and now under the law anyone with 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood in their system can be charged with driving under the influence. But developing the a marijuana DUI standard is not the only way in which the state’s DUI laws have changed, as of January 1st, drivers who refuse breathalyzer or blood tests face additional penalties.
Refusing to submit to sobriety tests is a person’s right, but Colorado, like many other states have implied consent laws. Implied consent means that when you obtain a driver’s license you basically sign a contract which requires you to comply with a law enforcement officer’s request to test you for intoxication. If you refuse a sobriety test, a common tactic utilized by individuals trying to avoid a DUI, you could lose your license.
The new law however doesn’t just require that your license be revoked for up to a year, it also means that you can be labeled as a persistent drink driver. Offenders can also be required to install an ignition interlock device into their vehicle for up to two years, but they must wait at least two months before they have this option. You can also be required to attend alcohol education and therapy classes, according to the Coloradoan.
In a press release, Colorado law enforcement agencies wanted to remind people even though marijuana is legal from recreational use in the state it is still illegal to drive high.
“There are some who do not feel that marijuana can impair driving, but it does,” said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT in the news release. “Marijuana affects reaction time, short-term memory, hand-eye coordination, concentration and perception of time and distance. And just like alcohol, people driving while impaired by marijuana can receive a DUI.”
The press release also reminded people that it is not legal to smoke marijuana in public or on the roadways. Having an open or unsealed container of marijuana in the passenger area of any vehicle is still illegal.
Colorado law enforcement has made stopping high drivers one of their priorities for the 2014. In 2012, officers made 24, 742 DUI or DWAI arrests. Upon conviction of a DUI, Coloradans are required to complete a drug and alcohol evaluation. Of the over 23,000 completed evaluations from 2012, 1,045 involved marijuana.
Driving under the influence of any drug or alcohol is not a good idea. The penalties and costs alone—the average DUI can cost up to $10,000—should be enough to dissuade a person from getting behind the wheel after they have toking or drinking, but it isn’t. If you happen to make the mistake of intoxicated driving then you need to hire a DUI attorney to work on your DUI defense strategy.