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Laws on driving and smoking marijuana in Colorado

Can I Legally Drive After Smoking Marijuana in Colorado?

In the state of Colorado, the recreational use of marijuana isn’t just decriminalized, it’s legal. So long as a user is only in possession of one ounce of marijuana or less, and so long as they are at least 21 years of age, the use of marijuana is not against the law. (Possession of one to two ounces is a petty offense.) However, that does not mean that there aren’t conditions to this use.

For example, marijuana is considered to be an impairing substance and, therefore, the use of marijuana before driving may indeed be an offense. Here’s what you should know about your ability–or inability, rather–to legally drive after smoking or otherwise using marijuana in Colorado:

Colorado Laws on Impaired Driving

Per Colorado statutes, it is unlawful for a person to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs of any type, including lawful drugs, such as prescription drugs or, in this case, marijuana. Because you cannot judge your own level of impairment after using marijuana, it is strongly recommended to not drive after consuming/using THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient that results in a “high” sensation.

How Much Can I Legally Use and Drive?

You can be convicted of driving while impaired if you have consumed/used any impairing substance and you are “under the influence” of such a substance and your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle is impaired as such. In terms of “how much” marijuana in your blood will serve as an automatic presumption of impairment, the law reads that having five (or more) nanograms of active THC in one’s blood while operating a motor vehicle can result in prosecution for a DUI (driving under the influence) offense. Again, note that even if the level of active THC in your blood is less than this, a police officer may have probable cause to arrest you regardless based on their observed level of impairment.

The prohibition on using marijuana and driving stands both for recreational users of marijuana and users of medical marijuana. Just like an over-the-counter drug, you cannot lawfully use any substance that is impairing and then get behind the wheel of a car.

Determining Impairment

One common question that people who use marijuana have is how a law enforcement officer will even be able to deduce that one has used the drug prior to driving.

  • Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) Training. In the state of Colorado, many of our law enforcement officers have received ARIDE training, which means that they have advanced knowledge of how to detect drug impairment.
  • Blood testing. The other way to determine whether or not an individual has used marijuana is to perform a blood test. While you maintain the right to refuse to submit to a blood test, if you do, your driver’s license will be revoked, and you will automatically be labeled as a “high-risk driver.”

Other Laws Related to Marijuana and Driving

Note that in addition to the law prohibiting impaired driving, whether as a result of alcohol consumption or drug use, Colorado also has an open container law on the books. This law also makes it illegal to have marijuana-related paraphernalia in the car, as well as any open containers of marijuana.

Defenses Against Drugged Driving

If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI as a result of allegations that you were operating a vehicle while impaired from marijuana use, you need a skilled DUI attorney on your side. Potential defenses against drug driving charges include a lack of proof that you had used marijuana, an improperly administered roadside sobriety test, an unlawful stop or vehicle search, evidence that you had used marijuana but were no longer under the influence at the time you were driving, and many others. If you are convicted, you can face serious penalties – it is strongly recommended that you seek the counsel of a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible in order to start building your defense and considering your options.

Call Our Colorado DUI Attorneys Today

The laws surrounding marijuana use and driving can be confusing and unclear. But if you are arrested for driving while under the influence of marijuana, one thing is certain: you need a skilled attorney. At the law offices of Anderson & Carnahan Attorneys at Law, our experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyers have worked on marijuana-involved DUI cases and understand what it takes to protect our clients’ best interests. To schedule a consultation with our firm today, please send us a message, visit our law office in person, or call us directly at 719-473-9099.

dangers of driving on 4th of July

Dangers of Driving on the 4th of July

We Americans love to celebrate our freedom on Independence Day. It’s a great time of going to parades and carnivals, getting together with friends, watching fireworks, and relaxing at the local bar or at a picnic or backyard grill.

Unfortunately, the United States Department of Transportation states that the 4th of July is also the deadliest holiday on American roads due to drunk driving, speeding, and other related factors. This is easy to understand when you consider the celebratory nature of the holiday and the fact that it takes place during some of the best weather of the year. Some people simply consume too much and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides additional data about the 4th of July and motor vehicle accidents. The agency states that an average of 118 people lose their lives in car, truck, or motorcycle accidents each year on July 4. This statistic has held true for at least the past five years. Independence Day ranks first ahead of New Year’s Day for the number of deadly crashes. More of the fatalities occur among people on motorcycles as well. The agency states that nearly half of all Independence Day fatalities involved the over-consumption of alcohol or drugs.

How to Keep Yourself Safe on the Road During the Summer Holidays

Whether you celebrate right here in Colorado Springs or you drive across the state you may run into some trouble. There are things you can do to decrease your likelihood of becoming a July 4th accident statistic. The first and most obvious one is not to drink alcohol or use any type of drugs if you’re going to be driving. This includes not taking more than the recommend dose of prescription drugs. Here are some other holiday driving tips that we recommend at Anderson & Carnahan, Attorneys at Law:

  • Obey the posted speed limit: Traffic congestion over the 4th of July holiday is worse than nearly any other time of the year. This can cause you to feel tempted to speed when given the opportunity, but saving a few extra minutes is never worth jeopardizing safety.
  • Inspect your car before starting your road trip: If you plan to do any long-distance driving, it’s a good idea to make sure that your car is as safe as possible. At a minimum, check the pressure and tread of your tires and make sure that your brakes, engine, seatbelts, and airbags work well. If you’re close to needing an oil change, go ahead and get it done before the trip.
  • Drive during the day if possible: Early morning during a holiday week is the best time to drive since there’s usually fewer people on the road. If that won’t work for you, aim to make your trip in the middle of the day. Driving at night always comes with reduced visibility and headlight glare. However, it’s much more likely you will share the road with drunk drivers the later you’re out driving yourself.
  • Make sure that you have emergency backup: Cars tend to break down at the worst possible times. If your car overheats due to sitting in traffic too long or you just can’t get started, it’s important to have equipment with you so you can deal with the issue promptly. We recommend packing road flares, jumper cables, a flashlight, and a spare tire for starters. Additionally, don’t forget to pack and keep a first-aid kit in your car.
  • Report reckless drivers: If you notice other drivers speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, or engaging in other dangerous driving behavior, pull over as soon as you can and call 9-1-1- to report it. Never make a phone call while you’re operating a vehicle.

Call Us if You Find Yourself in Legal Trouble

People don’t always exercise the best judgment over a long holiday weekend. If you’re charged with DUI, a traffic misdemeanor, or a felony crime, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. You can contact Anderson & Carnahan, Attorneys at Law, at 719-473-9099. We are conveniently located in Colorado Springs and offer a free initial case review.