A DUI … But Marijuana is Legal in Colorado

When people hear “DUI” they generally think of alcohol. However, since Colorado has legalized marijuana, laws have been put in place to regulate the use of marijuana and impaired driving.

In Colorado, if you get pulled over for suspicion of a DUI and the police officer thinks that you may be under the influence of or even impaired to the slightest degree by marijuana, then the officer will ask you to take a blood test. A blood test is the only option if an officer suspects there are drugs in your system.  A breath test will not be offered.

You may refuse the blood test, but it is noted as a refusal and the refusal can (and likely will) be used against you if your case were to go to trial.  Refusals also result in revocation of your driving privilege. C.R.S. 42-4-1301.

If you agree to the blood test, and it is found that you have five (5) or more nanograms of active THC per milliliter of whole blood then the law presumes you were driving under the influence of marijuana.  “Under the influence” means you were substantially incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle. C.R.S. 42-4-1301(6)(a)(IV).

What if I have a prescription for marijuana?

Having a red card or prescription for marijuana is not a defense to a DUI.  Why?  Just like alcohol is legal to consume (so long as you are of legal drinking age), it is not legal to drive if you have consumed it to the point you are under the influence or impaired.  The same rule applies to marijuana.  Even if you may legally use marijuana, it doesn’t mean you can drive while under the influence or impaired.

Additionally, similar to alcohol, you cannot have an open container of marijuana in your car. If you have a prescription or have legally bought marijuana for recreational purposes, you cannot have an open container in your car. The packaging cannot be broken or unsealed in any way.

It’s important to know that while you can get charged with a DUI for drinking and driving, you can also get charged with a DUI for the consumption or marijuana and driving with TCH levels in your blood over the legal limit.