Legalization of Marijuana Not a Pass for Driving Under the Influence

It is now legal to smoke marijuana for recreational use in Colorado, thanks to a ballot measure (Amendment 64) approved by the state's voters in the recent November elections. (Washington was the one other state that also legalized the drug that month.) Yet even though the change allows individuals to light up without doctor's prescriptions, Colorado residents can still be arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated by marijuana. According to Colorado state law, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a criminal offense referred to as DUI.

One recent incident tested the limits of Colorado's newfound laws relating to marijuana use. As described in CBS 6 WTVR's news story on Nov. 28, the Boulder District Attorney announced that he is refraining from pressing charges for marijuana possession in a particular case due to the passage of Amendment 64. The man who had the marijuana, however, was still cited for DUI.

According to the news story, a 60-year-old man from Florida drove to Colorado in order to buy medical marijuana for his back issues. The man ended up passed out in his still-running vehicle in front of the CU-Boulder police headquarters. He was found there by police with what reportedly appeared to be a marijuana cigarette, as well as crumbs from a pot brownie.

The article noted that the man was disoriented when he work up—he was trying to remove a seat belt he wasn't even wearing after he woke up. The driver ended up telling police that he was trying to drive to the mountains but ended up instead colliding into a bridge, where he passed out. The driver ended up receiving a DUI ticket. Besides marijuana, the police had also found beer bottles in his car.

Following the incident, CU police spokesperson Ryan Huff stated that even with the new legalization of marijuana, some things will stay the same.

"Even as Amendment 64 becomes law, it does not mean you can drive under the influence of a drug," he said. "It is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol and the penalties are the same."

When individuals are convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana, they can be subject to serious negative consequences, such as incarceration, expensive fines and fees, loss of driver's licenses and much more. By hiring a strong attorney, however, these individuals might be able to minimize or completely avoid these negative consequences. They can even experience increases in their insurance rates. If you are dealing with a marijuana-related DUI, talk to an attorney from Lancaster Law Office, LLC as soon as possible. Our Boulder DUI attorneys can inform you about how Colorado DUI laws affect your case and how to best proceed with your defense. Contact us today!