How are Colorado’s Marijuana DUI Laws Different from Other States?

By February 16, 2015Thomas Law Firm

Driving while stoned is illegal in all 50 states, but not all DUI laws are the same. Colorado’s drug-related driving laws are a bit different than most other places in the country, making it more likely that drivers can reduce or beat marijuana DUI charges. Here in the Centennial State, we use a system called “permissive inference.” If a driver tests above five nanograms of THC, the active chemical in cannabis, per millimeter of blood, authorities are only allowed to infer that the driver was under the influence of marijuana; it is not a guaranteed charge. Our system works this way because marijuana tends to stick around in the body’s fat cells for a long period of time, sometimes as long as three months. A blood test showing THC does not necessarily mean that the driver was impaired at the time of the testing.

Watch Attorney Jake Johnson goes into detail about why marijuana DUI allegations can be beaten in this video:

There are 11 states where any amount of THC in a driver’s blood is grounds for arrest. These are the zero tolerance states. These laws are problematic for longtime pot partakers, medical marijuana patients or just the average joe who took a hit off his friend’s joint during a weekend BBQ. Because THC stays in the system so long, a driver in any of these 11 states could be arrested for impaired driving even if they had not smoked in weeksand were not under the influence when they were behind the wheel!

More than a dozen states have what are called “per se” marijuana DUI laws (the favored law by the White House.) If a driver’s THC test shows levels above the state’s legal limit, the driver can be handed a DUI conviction without further inquiry; in many of these per se states, the legal limit is zero. These laws, like zero tolerance laws, do not take into account fat cell retention of THC and do not require evidence of impairment.

All in all, Colorado’s method of dealing with the issue of drug-related driving is more reflective of the science behind marijuana than other states’ policies—but there is still room for improvement in our DUI laws. Utilizing permissive inference helps protect drivers who smoke but do not drive impaired.

Thomas Law Firm – Marijuana DUI Attorneys


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