Driving Under The Influence of Drugs (DUI-D) in Colorado

If you’ve been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs in Colorado, you will already be well aware of the harsh penalties that a DUI-D charge brings with it. If convicted, you face substantial fines and court costs, as well as several hours of community service, potential jail time, and may also be required to attend drug education classes. So what is there to know about driving under the influence of drugs (DUI-D) in Colorado?

What does the law say about DUI-Ds in Colorado?

In Colorado, the law states that any detectable amount of drugs in a person’s system can lead to an arrest and DUI-D or DWAI charge. In Colorado, authorities are also legally able to infer that you are impaired if you test positive for having 5 nanograms of THC in your system.

What would a DUI-D arrest look like in Colorado?

If you are stopped—at a routine traffic stop, for example—and the officer in communication with you believes you to be under the influence of drugs but they are not trained in being a drug recognition evaluator (DRE) then they may call upon a DRE who is trained in recognizing the symptoms of drug impairment.

The DRE is voluntary and you are not required to complete the evaluation. This evaluation is actually a technique used by police to collect more evidence for your trial. If a DRE officer does evaluate you, they will create conclusions about you and testify about them later in court.

Traces of drugs can also be tested via blood samples. Typically, the drugs that will be tested for in your blood will be barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cannabinoids, cocaine, ethanol, methadone, methamphetamine, opiates, phencyclidine, and propoxyphene.

What role does marijuana play in a DUI-D?

Marijuana consumption and driving are highly regulated in Colorado. If you have more than 5 nanograms of THC in your system when driving, you can be charged with a DUI-D. However, there is a significant problem with this method of determining your impairment as caused by marijuana.

While studies have shown blood alcohol content (BAC) levels to correlate with intoxication and, therefore, impairment while driving, the same cannot be said of marijuana. Measurable peak THC levels in the blood have not necessarily been shown to correlate with impairment. What’s more, it has been shown that regular users can have active THC present in their blood for days after the initial ingestion of the substance—this is certainly well past the time at which the impairing effects would be present.

While the impairing effects of marijuana are likely to be present in your body for 1-2.5 hours, it is unlikely that the effects will last longer than that (for a small dose). However, it will take your body approximately 3 hours for the marijuana levels in your blood to fall below 5 nanograms. Again, this leaves a period of time in which the THC is present in your system, but it not likely to be affecting you.

It always pays to err on the side of caution when consuming marijuana and driving in Colorado. While the system is evidently far from perfect, it is still the law, and reducing your risk of being charged with a DUI-D should be of the utmost importance.