Recreational marijuana may be legal under Colorado law, but it does not give residents a free pass on all use. Much like with alcohol consumption, you cannot do whatever you want while under the influence.
It is possible to be charged for driving under the influence (DUI) in Colorado. State law dictates that it is illegal to have five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in your blood but any amount of consumption puts drivers at risk for driving impaired. Drivers who have used recreational marijuana should not drive afterward. This includes medicinal use of marijuana.
Testing is not always exact
No test exists for testing THC levels on the side of the road like blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests, so impairment at a traffic stop is often in the eye of the beholder. Cannabis can be detectable in bodily fluids for up to a month or several months for regular users.
Law enforcement officers will arrest you if they have any reason to believe you are impaired. Some officers have received Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) training and several agencies have Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) who have impairment detection training. Regardless of their experience, any officer can arrest you if they believe you are under the influence of marijuana.
Can I refuse a test?
One similarity between marijuana and alcohol, even if testing for impairment differs, is that you cannot refuse chemical testing following arrest. Colorado drivers give “expressed” consent to chemical testing once they get behind the wheel.
However, field sobriety tests are not chemical tests and you can refuse to take one. An officer may still choose to arrest you if they believe you are impaired.
The subjectivity of testing means that anyone who is pulled over for marijuana use would benefit from working with a criminal defense attorney who can review the specifics of your case and attempt to prevent maximum sentences.
While marijuana use is legal, it’s important to use it wisely and within the legal regulations.