The recreational use of marijuana has been legal in Colorado for several years now, and many people may believe that smoking the occasional joint isn't a cause for concern. However, marijuana can have an intoxicating effect on a person, impairing their ability to think and react quickly. This could affect their ability to drive and could even lead to criminal charges.
Driving under the influence doesn't just mean drunk driving -- it also means drugged driving. A motorist whose driving abilities are impaired due to drug use could be charged with DUI. However, it is not always easy to identify whether one's driving infraction is due to drug use. This is because, unlike breath tests used to determine one's blood-alcohol concentration, there isn't a roadside breath test that can detect whether a motorist has drugs in their system.
Let's take marijuana, for instance. The component in marijuana that makes a person high is tetrahydrocannabinol. However, THC can remain in a motorist's urine or blood stream for weeks after they have used the drug -- well after the high has worn off. So, a person might have THC in their system, but may no longer be impaired. Even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stated that, when it comes to drugs, as of right now, we cannot identify a dosage limit that would increase the chance a motor vehicle accident will occur. So even if a urine or blood test detects marijuana in a motorist's system, it is hard to say whether that means they were high.
Nevertheless, motorists in Colorado should avoid drugged driving. If they are accused of driving under the influence of drugs, they will want to make sure they understand all legal options available. Sometimes, this means challenging the charges in court, but, in other cases, a plea agreement may be more appropriate. The defense strategy to take is highly dependent on the facts surrounding one's case, so it can help to have a legal professional analyze the situation, so the accused can make informed choices regarding their defense.