Colorado Marijuana DUI ExplainedAs a legal establishment in the Mile High City, we are sometimes presented with questions like this: “So um, I have this friend.  And he asked me if he was a little, you know, lit, and needed to drive somewhere, for like cheese fries or something, what exactly are the rules about that?  I mean, can you get a DUI for weed?”

As the entire world knows, Colorado legalized recreational cannabis for adults in 2012.  But questions remain, as do lingering fears about asking them.  So here we go.

Can someone get a DUI for marijuana?

Yes, you can get a DUI (Driving Under Influence) or the lesser version, a DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) for marijuana.  Under Colorado law, it is a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including legal drugs, and the penalties are the same.

However, unlike for alcohol, there is no set limit in Colorado for how much marijuana can be in your system when you drive.  There is no breath test to determine whether there is THC (the active ingredient in most strains of marijuana) in your system, either.  In order to get a marijuana DUI, you must be driving unsafely (too fast, too slow, weaving, etc.)  At that point:

  • The officer who pulls you over will evaluate your appearance and any odors that may be wafting from your vehicle.
  • If you seem too stoned to drive, you will be arrested.
  • Once you are actually arrested, the state may insist you take a blood or urine test.
  • You can refuse the test but you probably shouldn’t—the penalties can be worse than the actual DUI or DWAI itself, including a one-year suspension of your license, mandatory drug education, and an official designation as a “persistent drunk driver.”
  • If the test shows more than 5 nanograms of THC (the active ingredient in most marijuana strains) in your blood, those results are permissible evidence against you.

Test Results and the Evidence

Colorado Marijuana DUI ExplainedHowever, test results are not the only evidence that matters. The state will still have to prove you were too impaired to drive. Why?  Because marijuana is a legal drug in Colorado, just like caffeine and cold medicine.  Just like, nationwide, it legal to wash down your decongestant with three shots of espresso, and hit the road!

But that doesn’t mean you should.  If you find yourself wondering if you are too stoned to drive, then you are too stoned to drive. Any amount of marijuana will impair you to some degree, and impairment puts you and others in danger. Also, please know it is illegal to consume marijuana on any roadway in Colorado, whether you are driving or not.

Don’t risk it.  Be safe.  Because you asked, awkwardly, for a friend.

Article by Molly Fuscher