There is starting to be a lot of freedom concerning the legalities around medical marijuana in many states across the US, and, most infamously, our own state that had legalized it in January of 2014. Even though the state is getting more flexible with the use of MMJ, it is being connected with traffic encounters, arrests, and accidents more than ever before.
According to a recent study performed by the Highway Loss Data Institute, car accidents have increased by 2.7% since the legalization of marijuana across the states of Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. The study claims that the two are correlated—car accidents and marijuana—and that the crash risk will continue to rise. The study does not prove that marijuana is a definite factor, but it does give courts, officers, and insurance companies reason to be concerned.
Drivers are getting behind the wheel under the influence of marijuana, and the Colorado State Patrol claims that there has been a steady incline of driver death’s that are directly caused by the influence of marijuana. This rate has been steadily increasing since the legalization. In fact, over 17% of DUI arrests made in Colorado last year involved marijuana. While alcohol is still the most common intoxicant, marijuana is slowly trailing behind.
The Laws on Marijuana and Driving
So what exactly are the rules concerning marijuana and getting behind the wheel? Since the legalization, this has been a tricky subject for law enforcement, as marijuana stays in your blood stream for weeks after use. This means that even you could be charged with a DUI even if you haven’t used marijuana recently.
While many states have a cut-and-dry, no tolerance rule when it comes to driving under the influence of any drug, including marijuana, Colorado follows a slightly more tolerant Per Se law limit. Colorado law states that 5 nanograms of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is enough to be charged with a DUI. But even at the scene, an officer has the right to make an arrest based on observation. If you appear to be impaired by marijuana, they can charge you.
To confirm, a blood test does exist to determine the level of THC in the bloodstream. If you refuse, however, the state has the right to term you a high-risk driver, demand a two year ignition interlock, a level two alcohol education, as well as therapy courses.
This new HLDI study may provoke the state and its officers to take a closer look into the legalities of marijuana and those who drive impaired, and more traffic stops might be encouraged.
If have been charged with a DUI from being under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or marijuana, hiring a defense attorney would be a smart decision. Liberty Law Center is houses expert DUI attorneys here in Colorado Springs, and we are all knowledgeable on the precise rules of marijuana and DUI charges. If you need legal assistance, contact us today.