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Marijuana and driving: Your questions answered

We all know that it’s illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol. A DUI conviction carries with it severe penalties. But since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado is more recent, some people might be unsure how the law applies to driving while under the influence on cannabis.

While the laws regarding driving under the influence of marijuana are similar to the laws about driving under the influence of alcohol, there are some specifics you should know.

How often are drivers cited for marijuana DUIs?

In 2018, 1,066 drivers were cited for either driving under the influence of marijuana, driving under the influence of marijuana and alcohol, or driving under the influence of marijuana and another drug. Of those 1,066 citations, 421 were for marijuana DUIs alone.

Law enforcement officers are cracking down on impaired driving in Colorado. From 2017 to 2018 there was a 25 percent increase in marijuana DUI citations. There was a 112 percent increase in citations involving both marijuana and alcohol.

What is the legal limit for marijuana impairment while driving?

Anyone with five nanograms or more of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – in their whole blood can be cited for a DUI. But police officers may arrest you for any observed impairment, regardless of your THC levels.

How do police determine impairment?

Law enforcement officers in Colorado receive special training to recognize the signs of impairment caused by marijuana. Many departments also have officers certified as “drug recognition experts.”

If an officer suspects you are driving while high, they may ask you to take a blood test. With your Colorado driver’s license comes the implied consent that you will submit to drug or alcohol tests. If you refuse, consequences could include a mandatory ignition interlock device, drug and alcohol education classes and more.

Can I have marijuana in my car?

Under open-container laws, it is illegal to have marijuana in the passenger area of your vehicle if it is in a container with a broken seal, or if it’s evident that marijuana has been consumed. It’s illegal in Colorado to use marijuana on public roadways.

What about medicinal marijuana?

It is still illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana, even if you have a medical prescription for it.

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