By now, you’ve probably heard about Colorado’s new drunk driving law, which makes repeat offenses a felony. Colorado was one of the few states in the nation without a felony DUI standard.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving said it was high time the law passed, but be careful what you wish for, because these really are high times in the Evergreen State. In addition to the drunk drivers police departments around the country contend with, Colorado police also have to deal with drivers stoned on legal, recreational marijuana.
Here’s what top Denver criminal defense lawyers say you need to know:
1. Marijuana Makes You A Safer Driver…
There’s a common myth among some pot smokers, particularly younger smokers, that getting high actually makes you a safer driver. Because marijuana can make you paranoid, some stoners think they are more alert and cautious while driving high.
In reality, the opposite is true. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that marijuana makes stoned drivers much more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash. Canadian researchers reached an identical conclusion: marijuana-impaired drivers are twice as likely to die in a car crash. For some reason, after Colorado legalized weed, the number of fatal marijuana car crashes went up. Probably a coincidence?
2. Many Marijuana Smokers Don’t Even Know It’s Illegal To Drive
Not only do many smokers think that marijuana is a performance enhancing drug, many don’t even realize it’s highly illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana (and yes, that includes legal marijuana). In 2014, a study from the Colorado Transportation Department revealed this terrifying statistic — 43% of Colorado marijuana users did not know that it’s illegal to drive under the influence. Hope they have the best DUI attorneys Denver has ever seen on speed dial…
3. Drunk Driving vs. Drugged Driving
When it comes to drunk driving, there’s really good news and really bad news… In 2011, 161 people died in fatal drunk driving car crashes in Colorado. How could there be good news? That’s a 45% reduction since 2001. Unfortunately, because of the first two items on this list, the number of drivers in fatal car crashes who tested positive for marijuana doubled between 2007 and 2012, from 7.04% to 16.53%.
4. 0.08% Is NOT The Legal Limit
In almost all 50 states, your criminal defense lawyer will tell you a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more will get you arrested for drunk driving. That’s also true in Colorado; however, it’s also illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.05% and above, called “driving while ability impaired.” If you’re underage, then anything above 0.02% will get you slapped with a DUI. According to criminal defense lawyers, that’s basically one drink.
5. It’s Not Necessarily “Legal” To Smoke Marijuana
Yes, Colorado legalized marijuana. But if your boss or workplace abides by federal Drug-Free Workplace guidelines, then you’re beholden to a higher law.
6. Drunk Driving Lawyers: More Effective Marijuana Road Tests Are On The Way
Currently, there’s not an effective equivalent for the alcohol breathalyzer. That means the police might err on the side of caution and write you up even if you aren’t stoned. If that happens, you’ll need the best criminal defense lawyer Denver has to offer. Even if you hadn’t smoked pot in days or weeks, it could still show up on a drug test. And law enforcement groups are investing heavily in more accurate tests.