Colorado Works to Reduce Marijuana-Involved Auto Accidents
In 2018, the Colorado Department of Transportation conducted a statewide traffic safety campaign intended to engage the state’s residents in a discussion about a very complex issue: cannabis and driving. Here are some common questions many people have about marijuana-impaired driving and the auto accidents the behavior can lead to:
Q: How does marijuana use affect the ability to drive?
A: According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana significantly impairs a driver’s judgment, coordination, and reaction time. Several research reports have shown a direct link between the concentration of THC in the blood and impaired driving, and, behind alcohol, marijuana is the drug most commonly found in the blood of drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents, including fatal ones.
Q: Is it ever permissible to drive with marijuana in the car?
A: It is OK to drive with marijuana in the car as long as you are transporting it and not consuming it, and neither drivers or passengers have any open marijuana wrapping or use the product while in the vehicle. If the seal has been broken on the packaging or some of the product has been used, and evidence exists that it was used in the car, you can be charged with a traffic offense.
Q: What is the legal limit for marijuana while driving in Colorado?
A: Colorado DUI laws set the legal limit for the amount of active THC in the body at five nanograms per milliliter of blood. Because people metabolize THC at different rates, the level of impairment can vary dramatically from person to person. No matter the amount of THC detected, law enforcement officers in the state rely on observed impairment when making arrests.
Q: How do law enforcement personnel determine whether someone is impaired by marijuana while driving?
A: While a breathalyzer test for detecting the presence of THC is not yet widely used, Colorado law enforcement officers receive training to detect drug impairment, and many have obtained additional training in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE). Colorado law enforcement agencies throughout the state have Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) on staff who can detect impairment due to a variety of substances.
Q: What if I decline to take a blood test for THC?
A: By driving in Colorado, you give your “express consent” to provide a chemical sample for testing. Anyone who refuses to consent to a chemical test as requested by law enforcement during the investigation of an alcohol- or drug-related DUI arrest will have his or her driving privileges revoked.
Q: What should I do if I was in an accident with a driver who appeared to be high?
A: After you ensure that nobody was injured and render aid to anyone that was, note any observations about the other driver such as the smell of marijuana, sluggish speech, red or watery eyes, sleepiness, or slow reaction time. Never accuse another driver of operating a vehicle under the influence; instead, share your observations with law enforcement.
Seek Legal Counsel Following a Colorado Car Accident
Were you injured in an automobile accident involving a motorist who you suspect was driving under the influence of cannabis? Contact personal injury attorney Dan Rosen at (303) 454-8000 or (800) ROSEN-911 to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case.