"Drive High, Get a DUI" Campaign Begins in Colorado

Colorado has started its “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign, which includes an educational as well as enforcement component.  The campaign includes ads and billboards reminding drivers that, like alcohol, marijuana should not be used before driving.  The campaign also includes enforcement efforts.  Law enforcement are receiving training to spot DUI drug drivers.

Officers are receiving drug recognition training.  This training will assist officers in determining whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana or other drugs.  For marijuana, officers look for enlarged pupils, the odor of marijuana and body tremors.  For other types of drugs, officers assess blood pressure and look for injection sites.  Governor Hickenlooper has made this training a priority, hoping that 300 officers will receive this training by next year.

Much like an alcohol related DUI, the initial observations by the officer are important in determining whether the DUI investigation will continue beyond the initial traffic stop.  In order for an officer to ask a driver for a chemical test to determine the driver’s level of intoxication, the officer must first have sufficient evidence to believe the driver has committed a DUI.  It is particularly important that an officer have training to detect drug use because only a blood test will show drugs in the system.  A breath test will not detect drug use.  However, in order for an officer to require a blood test and not offer a breath test, the officer must have sufficient evidence to believe the driver is under the influence of drugs specifically.  If the officer does not have sufficient evidence, it may result in the suppression of evidence, meaning the prosecution may not be allowed to use certain evidence at trial.  Depending on the type and amount of evidence that is suppressed, it may result in the dismissal of charges.