BILL REGARDING DUI AND MARIJUANA USE PULLED BY SPONSOR
Feb. 20, 2019
Marijuana is starting to lose its stigma as a dangerous drug, especially in states like Colorado that have legalized possession and use of small amounts of the drug. However, it is still possible to become high from marijuana, which could make it unsafe for a user to drive. For this reason, officers in the state may still place a motorist under arrest for driving under the influence of marijuana.
Some legislators in Colorado believe that the laws regarding DUI and marijuana use should be given more teeth. However, one bill that would have done just that, Colorado House Bill 1146, has been pulled by the very state representative who sponsored it. The bill would have permitted police officers in Colorado to place motorists under arrest if they presumed that the motorist was operating their vehicle while high on marijuana. It was ultimately determined that the bill wasn’t realistically feasible and could have unintended negative consequences.
Under the bill, a new offense would have been created known as “tandem DUI per se.” The bill would permit officers to place motorists under arrest if they believed there was evidence that the motorist had any measurable amount of marijuana in their system, rendering the motorist substantially incapable of being able to drive safely.
Under current law, motorists can face DUI charges if they have over five nanograms of the component in marijuana in their bloodstream that causes the user to experience a high — THC. However, it is possible to have over five nanograms of THC in your system even if you had used marijuana in the past and are no longer high. Moreover, those who have recently used marijuana may not have over five nanograms of THC in their system, even if they are too high to drive. Because the science regarding marijuana use while driving is still murky and because it was deemed that this bill could potentially lead to wrongful arrests if enacted, the bill was pulled.
While this bill is dead, this doesn’t mean that other bills like it will not be introduced in later congressional sessions in Colorado. Until more accurate means of determining whether a motorist is too high to drive are developed, whether a person’s arrest for drugged driving was lawful could be called into question. Those who want to do so may benefit from seeking legal advice before proceeding.