In Colorado, getting caught driving under the influence of marijuana is treated with the same severity as if you were caught driving under the influence of alcohol. The law treats it the same, and as such, so do traffic cops.
If the police have a legitimate reason to pull you over (for reckless driving, tail light out, etc.) and they do, they also then have the ability to request that you do things voluntarily to establish that you are impaired. This may include requesting that you do roadside tests. They can ask you questions, of course, and, if they suspect that you are under the influence of marijuana, they will also make observations including documenting:
- If your eyes are red and watery
- If your speech is slurred
- If your balance is poor
- If you are behaving oddly
While you can elect to take a blood test or a breath test in most circumstances where you are suspected of being under the influence of alcohol [law enforcement can force a blood test if you are at a hospital], law enforcement can mandate a blood test if they have reasonable grounds that your impairment is contributed to or caused by drugs, including marijuana.
Blood Testing for Drugs
Using the tools mentioned above (administering roadside tests, asking questions, making observations about your physical state), if the officer determines that he or she has probable cause to arrest you for driving while impaired and have reasonable grounds to believe the impairment is caused by or contributed to by drugs, they can demand a blood test.
An interesting situation has arisen during the pandemic. Many jurisdictions have taken the position that a breath test cannot be safely administered during the pandemic, so law enforcement has negated a driver’s choice of tests. They insist on a blood test. To the best of my knowledge, this has not been tested in Court. To make matters more interesting, law enforcement, despite the fact that no grounds are stated to give a reasonable suspicion that drugs are involved, will request that the blood sample be tested for both alcohol and drugs.
If you don’t take the test, it goes on the record as a “refusal,” which could be used against you in Court. For people that are afraid of needles or afraid of being exposed to Covid by having blood drawn, they are subject to being classified as a refusal without being offered a breath test.
Five Nanograms of THC
As I mentioned previously, the statute has a rebuttable presumption that five nanograms of THC is enough to impair a driver. However, virtually all studies indicate that there is no relationship between five nanograms of THC and being impaired. In my opinion, the legislature needed a “gold standard” for impairment that was similar to the standard for blood alcohol concentration in order to discourage people from driving while under the influence and to more easily convict them if they are caught.
If you have been arrested for DUID marijuana, contact our office today for a complimentary consultation. Call 303-449-1873 today.