Now that marijuana is legal for recreational use in Colorado, how is the state measuring impairment and how does that impact you if you’re pulled over for driving with marijuana impairment?
According to the state of Colorado, if a person’s ability to operate a vehicle is affected to the slightest degree by alcohol and/or drugs they can be arrested for Driving While Ability Impaired or DWAI. Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta 9 THC) is the psychoactive substance that creates impairment from using cannabis. Delta 9 THC becomes inactive once metabolized by the body – but that can take hours to happen and leaves you at risk for a DUI. The limit in Colorado of active Delta 9 THC in a driver’s blood, which gives rise to a “permissible inference” that the person is under the influence of cannabis, is five nanograms or more per milliliter in the whole blood.
So, the primary test for driving impairment level is the amount of THC in a suspected impaired driver’s blood. Drivers can be arrested and cited for impaired driving if law enforcement observes and documents driver impairment to any degree, even with a blood level below 5 ng of Delta 9 THC.
And this is the key issue. Law enforcement personnel are allowed to pull over a driver based on their observation of impairment which creates a potential challenge for the legal system. Colorado law enforcement officers receive training in impaired driving detection. Many receive additional advanced training in detecting impaired driving from drugs. However, this is a very subjective measure of impairment. What one law enforcement officer may deem impairment may be passed over by another. Our legal system requires a measure of fairness for people suspected of violating the prohibition against impaired driving and a subjective analysis of what constitutes impairment is not consistent.
If you are suspected of driving while marijuana impaired, you need a legal team who can help you navigate the often contradictory testing protocols. The highly experienced and qualified lawyers at Maher and Maher Law can help you protect your rights and craft a defense to help minimize or avoid penalties from your case. Call Maher & Maher Law at 719.301.7500 or text at 719.424.0057.