Colorado Bill Setting Marijuana DUI Limit Moving Forward
Some members of the Colorado legislature are attempting to put a number on the amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, a driver can have in his or her blood without being able to drive. If the proposed law passes, anyone with 5 nanograms per milliliter of THC or more will have a presumption of being under the influence of drugs while driving. The bill recently passed the state House of Representatives and will soon be under debate in the state Senate.
It is currently illegal to drive under the influence of drugs in Colorado, as it is in all states. However, currently Colorado has no set limit on how much THC can be in the blood before legally being under the influence of drugs.
Instead, a law enforcement officer determining a marijuana DUI looks at driver behavior and the circumstances of the arrest. If a driver fails a field test while THC is in his or her blood, for example, the officer may have a case for drugged driving.
Heavy Debate Surrounds the 5-Nanogram Limit
Medical marijuana is legal in Colorado to sick and dying persons with a prescription. Some patients are worried that a 5-nanogram limit is too low. They maintain that a person with chronic pain may use marijuana medicinally enough that THC is always present in the blood, even though the patient would not feel high.
Others argue the threshold is too low. Two other states, Nevada and Ohio, put the threshold at a 2-nanogram limit. While it is difficult to determine how much marijuana a person must consume before reaching 5 nanograms per milliliter, the authors of the bill say that a driver would have to consume very potent marijuana recently to have that amount of THC in the blood.
Although there is currently no official limit designated by law, there has been an increase in blood samples taken by police. In 2009 police took almost 800 blood samples from drivers, and that number more than doubled in 2010, according to the state health department. Evidence of THC in the blood can be used to prosecute a DUI.
If you have been charged with a DWI/DUI, contact Eric A. Sunness to learn your rights.