Now that the consumption of marijuana is legal in the State of Colorado for individuals over the age of 21, we’re seeing more cases of people getting pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID). This is true in any state where recreational use of marijuana has recently been legalized.
Here’s what you should know if you use recreational marijuana, or if you’ve been arrested for DUID.
Blood Test vs. Breath Test DUID
Colorado law provides that if you’re picked up for DUI and you’re over 21 years of age, you have a choice of taking a breath test (via a breathalyzer) or a blood test. However, if the officer has probable cause that you’re under the influence of drugs (i.e., if he or she smells marijuana along with other evidence of impairment or sees that you have drug paraphernalia in the car with other evidence of impairment, etc.), then the officer can order a blood test to check for drugs.
While there are rumors that companies are trying to develop a breath test for THC, law enforcement does not have the technology to administer a breath test that can determine how much marijuana is in someone’s system at this time. Therefore, if there is probable cause that a person is DUID, the driver will only be given the choice of a blood test or a refusal.
When the blood test is administered, there is a possibility that the officer will indicate that the lab should test for other types of drugs. Therefore, even if the officer didn’t have any evidence that a driver was driving under the influence of methamphetamines that could become the basis of the prosecution if supported by the results of the blood test.
What to Know When You’re Given a Blood Test
These days, we see a pattern of police officers “shot gunning it” when they order a blood test.
Here’s what I mean: if you are pulled over for DUI alcohol, you’re over the age of 21, and you elect to take a blood test (rather than a breath test), the officer may request that the lab test your blood for not only alcohol content but also drug content. In almost all cases the officers are doing this without telling the driver exactly what they’re being tested for.
That means that they may have you tested for drugs even if there is no evidence to suggest that you should be tested for drugs. If the results come back that you have not only been drinking but also smoking marijuana (or doing any other drug for that matter), the prosecutors will argue that their case against you is even stronger.
In my opinion, this is a grey area of the law.
I believe that the police officers need probable cause before they order that your blood be tested for drugs, not only because the drug test is more expensive than a simple alcohol test (as much as three (3) times as much, respectively, which will come out of your pocket), but also because there is no evidence to suggest that you should be tested for both. This is an issue that can be argued in Court.
If you have been arrested for DUID, don’t go through the process on your own. It is highly recommended that you seek the guidance of experienced counsel. Call us today at 303-449-1873 to set up a free consultation.