In May, the Colorado Senate voted against HB1261. That bill would have created a THC limit for drivers; specifically, drivers with more than five nanograms (ng/mL) of THC in their blood could have been accused of driving under the influence of drugs (DUID).
Now, a DUID working group set up by the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) has decided against proposing THC driving limits. A member of the working group, Michael Elliot, made a statement to the Denver Westword:
“The science does not support a five nanogram per se limit. Rather, a five nanogram per se limit would criminalize the unimpaired, while offering defendants little opportunity to demonstrate their innocence.”
Driving under the influence of drugs currently falls under the same statute as DUI (CRS § 42-4-1301): “It shall be sufficient to describe the offense charged as ‘drove a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs or both.'” DWAI also pertains to both alcohol and drugs. Thus, DUID defendants face many of the same potential consequences as DUI and DWAI defendants.
However, drugs are not as easy to test as alcohol. Inactive THC metabolites can be present in a marijuana user’s blood five weeks after marijuana use. This means that mere presence of THC does not equate to driving under the influence of drugs.
Colorado was one of the first states to attempt to limit THC blood content. The discussion around HB1261 centered mostly on medical marijuana users. If someone used medical marijuana legally, should he or she be punished for driving some days after using the drug? Yet, there are also wider implications. Who is truly a threat on the road? What scientific evidence should be used when developing criminal laws?
If you have been arrested for DUID in Colorado, call a DUID defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your future matters.
Source: Denver Westword, “Medical Marijuana Industry Group Comes Out Against Per Se THC Driving Limits,” Michael Roberts, Sept. 2, 2011.