Driving While Stoned: Colorado DUI Law
When a drunk driver is pulled over, it is the amount of alcohol in his blood that determines if he or she is indeed drunk according to law. A new bill, House Bill 1261, would institute a similar blood content rule for drivers who have been ingesting marijuana in Colorado.
The bill states that a person who drives with a tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) blood content of five nanograms or more be charged with DUI. Unsurprisingly, as reported by Caroline Carver at News First 5, reactions are mixed:
Rep. Waller [one of the bill’s sponsors] says, ‘I think this is an important bill it’s an important public safety issue for the state of Colorado, as marijuana use goes up the number of people using marijuana and driving automobiles goes up as well and we certainly need to protect our streets.’
Mary McNeely, a Springs area medical marijuana advocate says, ‘people should not be driving impaired whether it’s on medical cannabis, alcohol or Percacet, my concern is that the 5 nanograms seems like an arbitrary number.’
Waller has stated that the five-nanogram amount was suggested by “Denver area doctors and lawyers.” At present, 12 states have a zero tolerance policy for any amount of illegal intoxicants in the bloodstream. Nevada and Ohio currently have a two-nanongram limit on the books. Pennsylvania has a five-nanogram THC limit, but it is only a state Health Department guideline.
With medical marijuana legal in 16 states, I’m sure that we will be seeing more attempts to codify these legalities. Just as with alcohol, the more legal opportunity exists for its consumption, the more need there will be to define what constitutes a legal offense.