Since Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012, there has been a great deal of discussion as to whether or not this has increased crime rates. It is important to note that prior to legalization, only slightly more than one percent of all crimes could be tied back to marijuana, which means it was already relatively low. Police on all levels have indicated that DUI arrests were not always sorted by alcohol and marijuana, so some of those statistics may be misleading.
Understanding DUI Arrests and Marijuana
Under Colorado law, even though marijuana is legal for casual use, it is important to remember that driving while under the influence of marijuana is still a crime, similar to drunk driving. Because it is impossible to use a standard Breathalyzer to determine the level of marijuana in someone’s system, law enforcement will use a blood test to determine the level of Delta 9- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in your system.
By law, this amount must be lower than five nanograms per milliliter of blood or you will face charges of DWAI. In the years leading up to the legalization and availability of marijuana from approved dispensaries, there was no tracking of marijuana as a cause of an accident. Since legalization, the number of arrests and accidents have been tracked and look like this:
- In 2012, there were 632 drivers involved in fatal accidents on Colorado roadways. Of these, 288 were tested for drugs and 79 were found to be in violation of the statues.
- In 2013, there were 627 drivers involved in fatal accidents. 293 of these drivers were tested for drugs and 106 tested positives.
- In 2014, 684 drivers were involved in fatal accidents and 310 were tested for drugs. 123 of these drivers failed the test.
However, it is also important to note that not all of these drivers tested positive for marijuana. In fact, the number of drivers with marijuana over these three years were 164 in comparison to the 308 who tested positive for drugs. That means about 53 percent had unacceptable levels of marijuana in their systems.
Some Press Points to Good Progress
While some people were notably concerned about the potential increases in crimes and arrests when marijuana became legal, in February of 2016, The Gazette published an article detailing only marijuana citations. What they found is of the nearly 5,000 citations issued for intoxicated driving, fewer than 8 percent of these citations were for marijuana, and that was a decrease from previous years.
You May Still Need Legal Help
The legalization of marijuana does not necessarily mean you are free to carry marijuana on your person, or drive after you have consumed an excessive amount of this product in any form. In fact, you can still be cited for impaired driving and you can also be cited for possession of anything except the state allowed limits, which is one ounce.
If you have been arrested and charged with marijuana possession or impaired driving, you need a qualified criminal defense attorney to work with you on your defense. Drug charges are still taken very seriously in Colorado, in spite of legalization. Contact Kevin Cahill by filling out our convenient online form or calling (720) 548-2990 to schedule your free initial consultation; we can help protect your freedom and potentially avoid a life-long criminal record.