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Denver DUID Attorneys

Arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID)?

If you choose to take advantage of legal marijuana in Colorado, you can still run afoul of the law, especially on public roads. Although it is legal to use and purchase cannabis recreationally, it is against the law to drive under the influence of drugs. Just like with drunk driving, you could find yourself facing DUI charges.

The term DUID is really a made up term by the legal community to bifurcate a “traditional” DUI case involving alcohol from DUI case involving drugs. The statute for DUI includes drugs, alcohol or a combination of both. Therefore, the penalties associated with a conviction for a drug-related DUI are exactly the same as those involved in a alcohol-related DUI offense.

According to Colorado state law, motorists are considered legally impaired if a blood test detect at least five nanograms of active THC. However, cannabis affects everyone differently. While more novice consumers may be significantly impaired after consuming the legal limit, it may not even hinder those who use pot quite frequently.

Facing accusations of DUID? Call a Denver DUID lawyer today for a free consultation. 

Colorado DUID Penalties

If you are arrested for a drug-related DUI in Colorado, you will face the same potential penalties as a drunk driver, which may include:

  • Fines not exceeding $1,000
  • Maximum sentence of one year in jail
  • License suspension for up to nine months
  • 12 points against your driver's license
  • Up to 96 hours of community service
  • Higher insurance premiums

Since impairment from marijuana is difficult to determine, prosecutors have a tough time convincing juries that DUI defendants were significantly impaired. Our Denver DUID lawyers at Orr Law Firm can apply one or several legal defenses based on the facts of your case in order to help get your charges dismissed or your penalties reduced. Let us help you get your life back on the right track immediately. Contact us.

How Much Pot Is Too Much for the Road?

In Colorado, you commit the crime of driving under the influence of marijuana in Colorado if you are unable to safely operate a vehicle due to cannabis consumption. In addition to determining if a person when over the legal limit, law enforcement must prove—through objective evidence—that you couldn’t safely drive.

Cues that someone is too high to drive may include:

  • The person commits a traffic violation
  • The person weaves in and out of his/her own lane
  • The person drives too slow or too fast
  • The person appears to be stoned (e.g. red eyes, slurred speech, slow motor skills, etc.)
  • The police discover cannabis in the vehicle
  • The police smell marijuana odor in the vehicle
  • The police discover marijuana paraphernalia (e.g. a pipe, a bong, a joint, etc.)

For decades, opponents of drunk driving have been educating the public about how many drinks it may take for a driver to become legally impaired. But how many tokes, joints or bong hits does it take to reach the legal limit of five nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC (the mind-altering ingredient in cannabis), in your blood?

Comparatively, little has been done to educate pot users, and it’s not even clear if marijuana affects individuals in the same way that alcohol does. Further complicating matters is the fact that THC content in marijuana varies widely among different types of plants. It’s not like beverages that declare their alcohol content on the label.

There’s another difference between marijuana and alcohol that bears mentioning. Your system evacuates alcohol fairly quickly. But THC gets stored in your body’s fat cells, so it takes longer to dissipate. That makes a urine test for THC useless, because it may register the cumulative amount of THC in your system, not the active amount.

Challenging the Legal Limit of THC in Colorado

Blood tests for THC are notoriously inaccurate. There’s also considerable evidence that smokers build up a tolerance for THC, so a habitual smoker with a THC reading above five nanograms (the legal limit) may not be impaired at all.

There has been a great deal of criticism of the DRE (drug recognition expert) training that officers receive to determine if a driver is under the influence of drugs. The program’s protocols rely too heavily on the biases of law enforcement officers to be useful in any kind of diagnostic sense. All of these points provide an opportunity for an experienced DUID defense attorney, like those at the Orr Law Firm, to challenge the charges against you.

Common DUID Defenses in Colorado

THC: Marijuana & 5ng/ml Permissible Inference Law

Colorado recently passed a “Permissible Inference” law regarding marijuana and its active ingredient – THC. This arbitrary limit is now set at 5ng/ml of blood. A blood content of 5ng/ml gives rise to permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence.

Defendants could avoid conviction by presenting evidence that they were not in fact impaired. Although that approach is better than a per se rule, the five-nanogram cutoff remains arbitrary. It is not supported by scientific evidence showing that people generally are impaired at that level, and tests suggest that many marijuana consumers drive competently at THC levels far above five nanograms.

The five-nanogram cutoff completely ignores all the science, which indicates that there is no particular number that determines impairment by THC across the population. THC affects everybody differently. There are many people who are not impaired at well over five nanograms, and there are some who are probably impaired at fewer than five nanograms. What this law does is shift the burden of proof to the defendant to prove he or she was not impaired or under the influence.

Understanding these hurdles and the science or lack thereof behind this law is critical in developing a defense strategy to defend clients against DUID cases that involve THC or marijuana. Even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) agrees that there is no valid scientific evidence to support a specific level for impairment by THC.

Colorado Prescription Drug DUI Defenses

Most people think of illegal narcotics or marijuana when they think of a DUID or drugged-driving allegation. However, driving under the influence of prescription drugs is probably the most common DUID case that we see. The elements of the offense are the same, except that state does not have a set per se limit or number that they can use to say everyone over “x” limit is under the influence and everyone over “y” limit is impaired.

In these cases, officers will rely heavily upon poor driving behavior and alleged observations of displayed impairment, such as, blood shot and watery eyes, delayed reaction times, unsteady balance, poor motor skills, pupil size and reaction to light, being confused or disoriented, etc. The state will also rely upon its hired experts to opine as to the levels of the active and inactive drug found within your blood and how those levels correlate to impairment based on the officer’s alleged observations.

Representation for DUID Charges in Colorado

If you have been arrested for a marijuana-related DUI in Colorado, our Denver DUID lawyers at the Orr Law Firm are committed to helping you prove that you were not under the influence of drugs while operating a vehicle. We can assess your case, determine any weaknesses in the prosecution’s argument, and create an effective defense plan to get the best possible results in court. Don't wait; let our firm protect your rights and future today.

If you are facing drug-related DUI charges in Colorado, get advice and counsel from our Denver DUID attorneys at the Orr Law Firm. 

We offer free initial consultations. Get started today by calling us at (303) 818-2448 or contacting us online.

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