Can you have marijuana in your car while you’re driving?
What if you are not high but you or your car smell like weed?
Is there a legal limit like with alcohol, or is any marijuana use illegal before driving?
According to a 2015 Colorado Department of Transportation study, more than one in five recreational marijuana users don’t know they can be arrested for driving while high. And law enforcement, policy makers and concerned drivers across the state are asking the same question:
“Is marijuana making our roads less safe?”
Colorado law enforcement started tracking marijuana DUIs in an effort to determine whether marijuana legalization has led to more dangerous roads. In 2014, just over 12 percent of Colorado DUI or DWAI citations involved marijuana, as reported by The Denver Post. According to a Kare 11 story, that number climbed to 15 percent in 2017.
While any DUIs are too many, that increase is significantly smaller than many marijuana antagonists may have projected. At the same time, the number of deaths on the road involving a driver over the legal limit for cannabis (5 nanograms per milliliter) was reduced by approximately half from 2016 to 2017.
However you view these road safety statistics, we can all make our roads safer and protect ourselves from a Colorado DUI by understanding marijuana driving laws and the consequences for driving high.
No Consumption On Public Roadways
As with alcohol, the consumption of any amount of marijuana while operating a vehicle or while on any public roadway is illegal and can result in a DUI.
What Constitutes Driving Under the Influence?
You can be arrested for driving impaired if you have an active THC level of 5 or more nanograms per milliliter. But many of us have no way of testing our own blood to determine if we are within the legal limit. And factors like how often you smoke, when you last smoked and how much you consumed can all impact the level of active THC in your blood and how long it is present (from a few hours to more than a day).
But even without a blood test, you can be charged with a DUI in Colorado if there is evidence of impairment.
Evidence of Impairment
Colorado DUI arrests are based on observed impairment as well a blood test, the presence of open containers, the smell of weed and other evidence that marijuana has been consumed. Many officers in Colorado have received advanced training to detect impairment from alcohol and a variety of other drugs and substances. If a blood test is not obtained or you refuse a blood test (which we don’t recommend), an officer-observed impairment can serve as evidence.
Refusing a Blood Test
You can face a number of lengthy and serious consequences if you refuse a blood test, whether or not you are convicted for driving under the influence. Your license will automatically be revoked for a period of one year, your vehicle may have an ignition interlock device installed and you may be required to complete substance education and therapy.
Open container laws in Colorado apply to marijuana, and you should always exercise caution when transporting marijuana. It is against Colorado law to have marijuana in the passenger area of your vehicle if it is in an open container, the container has a broken seal or there is evidence marijuana has been consumed. To be safe, you should transport marijuana in the trunk of your car instead of in the passenger seat or in your pocket.
Penalties for Colorado DUIs
Colorado DUIs can carry severe penalties, including more than $10,000 in costs and possible jail time. If you receive a DUI while one or more child is in the vehicle, you could be charged with child abuse in addition to driving under the influence. Understanding Colorado DUI laws and Colorado marijuana laws can mean the difference between getting your hand stamped at the bar and getting a mark on your permanent record.
Karing Kind is Boulder’s first recreational marijuana dispensary, and we are proud to promote safe, sober driving. To learn more about Colorado DUI laws, Colorado marijuana laws and how to consume marijuana responsibly, visit cdot.gov, noduicolorado.org or search the Karing Kind website for related articles.
Karing Kind is located just off of US-36, one mile north of Broadway, now open daily from 9am to 10pm.
While we carry a variety of strains, concentrates and edibles, inventory and stock levels fluctuate from week to week and month to month. Check our menu and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for an up-to-date list of edibles, concentrates and buds available now.