blog DUI When Does Marijuana Lead to a DUI Conviction in CO?

When Does Marijuana Lead to a DUI Conviction in CO?

By Colorado Attorney-at-law on July 12, 2021

Although recreational use of marijuana is now legal in Colorado, DUI is still a crime. You face the same basic criminal penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana as you would for driving under the influence of alcohol. There is no strict legal limit for marijuana at which point you are considered too impaired to drive. You can be charged with DUI of marijuana if you are substantially mentally and/or physically incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle. This offense is usually charged as a misdemeanor.

How Is Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Established?

Objective evidence is required to prove you were driving while impaired by marijuana. The burden is on the prosecution to show that you were too stoned to drive safely. A medical marijuana registry card cannot be used against you. Examples of evidence that could be used against you include:

  • Traffic law violations
  • Driving too fast or too slowly
  • Wandering in and out of your lane
  • Bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or other appearance of impairment
  • Marijuana found in the vehicle
  • Smell of marijuana in the car
  • Rolling papers, joint clip, bong, or other marijuana paraphernalia in the vehicle

Is DUI Drug Testing Required for Marijuana?

A police officer can require you to take a DUI blood test instead of a breath test if you are arrested for DUI or DWAI (driving while ability impaired) by marijuana. If your blood contained five nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of blood, it can be used as a permissible inference that you were driving under the influence of marijuana. However, this is not conclusive evidence and it can be challenged in court.

How Is DWAI by Marijuana Established?

If you are even slightly affected by smoking or consuming marijuana – or less able than you would have been otherwise to safely operate a motor vehicle — you can be charged with driving while ability impaired. There is no test to establish that you were not under the influence, as there is with alcohol. The amount of THC in your blood is only one factor in your case. Effects of marijuana can vary depending on the strain, strength, how it was used (smoked, eaten, vaped, etc.), and other factors.

What Are the Penalties for DWAI and DUI of Marijuana?

Penalties for DUI and DWAI with marijuana are the same as they are with alcohol. They may include:

  • Jail time of five days to one year
  • A fine of $600 to $1,000
  • Up to 96 hours of community service
  • Driver’s license suspension for a maximum of nine months
  • Ignition interlock restrictions after your license is reinstated

What Are the Defenses Against DWAI or DUI of Marijuana?

The defenses we can raise in your case will depend on the facts. Common defenses include:

  • Police had no probable cause to pull you over.
  • Your driving was not affected by marijuana use.
  • There was no reasonable basis for suspecting you of driving under the influence or giving you a blood test.
  • You were driving poorly for another reason (such as fatigue, illness, or distraction).
  • Police used improper procedures in your blood test.
  • The officer failed to read your Miranda rights.

Our Breckenridge DUI attorneys at Whitaker & Penix, LLC have extensive trial experience and knowledge of local courts, processes, and players. We avoid overloading ourselves so we can devote personal care to every case. Our DUI trial lawyers are knowledgeable and honest and will tell you what you need to hear. If you are facing charges of DWAI or DUI of marijuana, call us today at (970) 368-0602 to find out how we can help.

Posted in: DUI