Even though the recreational use of marijuana is legal in Colorado, that doesn’t mean the state’s driving while under the influence of drugs (DUID) laws are any more lenient. In fact, these laws continue to be very strict when it comes to marijuana use, despite it now being legal.
For instance, under Colorado law, there exists a “permissible inference” that you are under the influence — and therefore driving illegally — if your blood contains “five nanograms or more” of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Essentially, this means that you could be charged with DUID in Colorado if you are at, or above, the five-nanogram limit and decide to get behind the wheel.
While this THC driving limit may not sound unreasonable at first, the truth is that it may not measure a person’s actual level of impairment accurately. For example, given how THC is absorbed in the body, blood testing can still detect it long after the effects are gone.
In fact, THC can be detected with regular marijuana users for weeks. As a result, frequent users may rarely be under the five-nanogram limit, if ever. This means they are possibly at risk of being charged with DUID every time they decide to drive, even when they are not impaired. And, if you think a medical marijuana card can save you, you had better think again, because Colorado law clearly says that a marijuana prescription is no defense to DUID.
But, that doesn’t mean you have no legal options if charged with DUID. Indeed, while prosecutors can infer that you are under the influence if you are above the five-nanogram limit, you are free to challenge this inference in court. After all, while should you face a severe penalty if you are not actually under the influence.