The law in Colorado allows for prosecution if you are under the influence of ANY substance that will impair your ability to drive. The most common item is alcohol, but many drugs can produce a form of impairment. Illegal drugs such as marijuana, crack cocaine, and PCP are a few examples of the 6 main categories a police officer will be looking for. Included in the 6 classifications of impairing drugs are many prescription medications, one of the most common being narcotic analgesics. Valium, Zanex, Ambien and Loritab are but a few of other commonly prescribed drugs that people may legally possess with a valid prescription from their physician yet still result in an arrest if they are driving while under the influence of those drugs. A person charged with driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) would be facing the same penalties as a DUI charge.
There is a program designed through the Department of Transportation to train officers to be Drug Recognition Experts or Evaluators (DRE). The authors of this book have been trained to understand and defend against the allegations of the state’s Drug Recognition Experts. Once an officer on the street suspects drug impairment, there is a 12-step evaluation procedure that is undertaken to determine if an arrest is warranted.
Similar to the SFSTs for alcohol impairment, there have not been any credible studies to support the position that DRE exams have any scientific basis of reliability. Another problem is that there are very few officers trained in drug recognition evaluation and the trained ones often will ignore the procedures and just make a guess. This results in an arrest, but it also opens the door for a vigorous defense by properly trained DUI attorneys with DRE training.
The tides in Colorado are changing when it comes to DUID. At the time of the publishing of this book, the state had not yet determined a per se level for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is the author’s belief that, right or wrong, the state will settle on a per se limit for THC with little or no scientific research to support the arbitrary number.
Once this decision has been made there will be a charge for DUID and for DUID per se as it relates to levels of THC within the blood. A trained DUI and DUID attorney knows how to decipher the state’s blood and urine tests to determine whether the state has evidence of past use or of active impairment. It is important to note that unlike alcohol, drug metabolites stay in the body for an extended period of time. Most drugs have an active and inactive component, known as a metabolite, and it is critical that your defense attorney now how to determine the difference between them and ensure that the state’s test is for the active metabolites.