First it was medicinal marijuana that was legalized in the state of Colorado. Then it was recreational, with some limitations. These legalizations of a once highly illegal substances have brought more questions than answers for lawmakers and law enforcers. It has opened somewhat of a Pandora’s box, so to speak. One of these legal issues that has been addressed, and still needs further addressing, is law surrounding marijuana use and driving.
In Colorado, it is a crime to drive while under the influence of pot, just as it is while under the influence of alcohol. According to Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1301, if a driver is substantially incapable of exercising the mental or physical control that is required to safely operate a vehicle, they are considered to be under the influence. Even though some marijuana use is legal in Colorado, it is still illegal to use it and drive.
In general, it is a crime to drive under the influence of any substance; be it alcohol, pot, or any other prescription or over the counter substance, that causes you to not be able to safely make decisions and physically handle a vehicle. Even if a driver is legally using pot, driving while under the influence of this substance is still illegal and will be treating as such.
If you are caught driving under the influence, you can face up to nine months of a suspended license, between five days and a year in jail, as well as a fine of at least $600, but no more than $1,000 and between 48 and 96 hours of community service. Second time offenders can have their driver’s license suspended for up to a year, 10 days to one year in jail, a fine no less than $600 but not more than $1500, and a minimum of 48 hours of community service, up to 120 hours. Third and subsequent offenses will earn a driver 2 years of licensure suspension, 60-365 days in jail, a fine between $600 and $1500, and between 48 and 120 hours of community service.
If a third or subsequent offense is committed within seven years of two more of the prior offenses, the driver can face up to a 5 year license suspension. It is also important to note that in Colorado every driver has implied consent. This means under the state law, everyone who drives has given consent to a drug test by blood, breath, saliva or urine, if they are stopped by an officer that has reason or evidence to believe they are driving while under the influence. If a driver refuses to take a test it can be used against them in court and is also grounds to have their driver’s license suspended.
A marijuana DUI in Colorado is not worth the risk. It is illegal to drive while under the influence of this substance, just as it is illegal to drive while intoxicated with alcohol or other substances. Violators caught driving while under the influence of marijuana can face steep penalties.