It is now legal for adults over the age of 21 to smoke or consume marijuana for recreational purposes. As a result, tourists from all over the country have yet another reason to take a trip to Denver. Yet while the recreational consumption of marijuana may be legal, it is not legal to drive under the influence of marijuana. Both locals and tourists alike can be arrested and charged with DUI if a police officer believes that they have been driving stoned.
Lawful Limits for Stoned Driving
Colorado’s stoned driving law states that a driver can be found guilty of DUI if his or her blood contains 5 nanograms or more of delta THC per milliliter in blood. This is the legal limit of marijuana, similarly to the legal limit of alcohol (currently 0.08). This law (House Bill 1325) makes Colorado one of only 5 states that impose thresholds for cannabinoids and driving.
What makes Colorado’s law unique is the concept of permissible inference. At 5 ng of THC in the blood, the driver of the car is not presumed to be impaired, but rather that the defendant’s ability to operate a vehicle may have been impaired and must be considered along with other competent evidence to determine if they were driving impaired. This means that drivers who are arrested for driving stoned can still make the case that the THC was not impairing their driving.
Consider this: a 2004 report by the NHTSA found that a single puff of marijuana could be enough to raise a person’s THC levels over the legal limit. Yet the degree of impairment comes from a person’s experience with marijuana and not a blood concentration ratio.
DUI of Alcohol VS. DUI of Marijuana
Stoned driving is completely different from driving under the influence of alcohol—and drivers who have been arrested and charged with stoned driving should understand their legal rights. The new law allows for criminal defense lawyers to build a solid defense that is designed to show—and prove—that the THC levels of the blood were not impacting the driver’s ability to operate his or her vehicle safely. This can be done in a number of ways, but it takes a savvy criminal defense lawyer to understand how best to proceed.
Contact an Experienced Denver DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested for DUI or driving stoned in Denver, contact the Denver criminal defense lawyers at Steven Louth Law Offices today for a free consultation and review of your case. Call us at (303)422-2297 to start building a solid defense against these serious criminal charges.