While both medical and recreational cannabis is legal in Colorado, there are requirements to qualify for the ability to use them. There are also laws that govern what individuals are able to do while intoxicated by marijuana and marijuana-derived products. In the same way as intoxication through alcohol, prescription drugs, or other legal or illegal substances, an individual can receive a DUI charge for driving under the influence of marijuana.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) answers the question "I'm a medicinal marijuana user, can I still be arrested for driving impaired?" with a direct "Yes. If you are impaired while driving, even as a medical cardholder, you are at risk of getting a DUI."
Penalties for Marijuana DUIs in Colorado
Through Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1301, a motorist may be found guilty of a marijuana DUI if they are substantially incapable, either physically or mentally, of safely operating their vehicle due to the use of marijuana.
When these elements of the charge are met, the following penalties can be incurred on the first offense:
- Jail time from five days to one year
- A fine of $600-$1,000
- A driver's license suspension of up to nine months
- A maximum of 96 hours of mandated community service
A second conviction for a marijuana DUI in Colorado leads to:
- Jail time ranges from ten days to one year
- A fine of $600-$1,500
- Driver's license suspension up to one year
- Up to 120 hours of mandated community service
- The installation of an ignition interlock device for two years following the reinstatement of the license
Penalties for a third marijuana DUI conviction include:
- Jail time from 60 days to one year
- A fine of $600-$1,500
- The suspension of your driver's license for up to two years
- The installation of an ignition interlock device for 2 years following license reinstatement
There is an additional charge that has lesser elements in Colorado known as driving while ability impaired, or DWAI. This form of the charge includes points on your driver's record which can result in significant increases in your present and future insurance costs.
How is Marijuana Impairment Determined in Colorado?
While intoxication by alcohol can be immediately measured through blood or breath tests, determining intoxication through marijuana is more difficult. The CDOT notes that THC, the psychoactive substance in marijuana that causes impairment, becomes inactive over time. The primary factor that law enforcement will look at is your driving behavior in addition to the level of impairment that the law enforcement officer observes and documents.
Observed impairment is the basis for a marijuana DUI arrest. It must be proven with documentation and an experienced Colorado marijuana DUI attorney can help you achieve the best possible outcome on your case by challenging the charges against you.
Connect with a Colorado Marijuana DUI Defense Lawyer at The Law Offices of Steven T. Rodemer, LLC
An experienced marijuana DUI defense lawyer can make the difference between a dropped case or acquittal as opposed to a conviction. To learn how we can help, visit our site to schedule a consultation.