n 2012 Colorado became one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, but legalization came with several stipulations. For example, you can’t smoke in public, you can’t carry around a bunch of weed, and you can’t drive while high. In fact, each of these actions can result in criminal charges despite marijuana’s legalization. However, in this blog post we will talk about three reasons why you should always fight marijuana related-driving while under the influence of drugs charges.
We all know drinking alcohol increases your blood alcohol content (BAC), but what you might not know is that smoking weed leaves traces of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in your system. As a result, police who arrest people for driving under the influence of marijuana test their blood to “prove” they were driving high. However, THC levels cannot prove that someone’s mental capabilities are affected by weed. Why: because THC can stay in someone’s system long after they were high.
Studies show THC can stay in someone’s blood for up to a month after smoking marijuana. In fact, for daily users, THC can remain in the bloodstream for up to 3 months after use! However, as marijuana users know, impairment can taper off after one to three hours of getting high. Therefore, THC stays in people’s systems for much longer than it impairs them. As a result, testing someone’s blood for THC does virtually nothing to prove someone’s current impairment. Not only is testing for THC different from BAC but driving while high is different from driving drunk.
When people drink alcohol, the physiological and psychological change in their body is consistent.
At 0.08% BAC, you can expect the person to have the following symptoms:
However, when people smoke marijuana, the physiological effects can be drastically different from the effects of alcohol. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that there is no direct correlation between marijuana use and increased traffic accident risk. Here is a direct quote from the study, “However, analyses incorporating adjustments for age, gender, ethnicity, and alcohol concentration level did not show a significant increase in levels of crash risk associated with the presence of drugs.”
Therefore, an experienced criminal defense attorney can cast doubt on the dangers of driving with THC in someone’s system, especially because there are no police guidelines for proving marijuana-impaired driving.
When people drink and drive, there is a clear distinction between those who are “driving over the limit” and those who are under the limit. That’s because studies have proven that a 0.08% BAC is heavily associated with a drunken mental state. However, police have not determined guidelines for who is technically driving under the influence of marijuana.
For example, when police suspect people of drinking and driving, they will conduct roadside tests (say the alphabet backward, walk in a straight line) to help determine if they are drunk. However, if police suspect someone of driving while under the influence of marijuana, there is no hard-and-fast police protocol for them to follow. Therefore, the police have no guidelines to prove that a suspect was driving under the influence of marijuana.
It’s hard for prosecutors to prove that someone was driving while high because THC levels don’t correlate to mental state, marijuana impacts people differently than alcohol, and there is no test to prove that a person is driving high. However, just because marijuana DUIDs charges are hard to prosecute, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get an experienced lawyer!
If you’ve been charged for driving while under the influence of marijuana, our firm can help! Call (720) 548-2990 now for a free consultation for your case!