What Colorado Drivers Need To Know About Drugged Driving and DUI Charges

  • Robert Biondino,
  •   DUI
  •   None


Is it possible to be convicted of Driving Under the Influence even if you had absolutely no alcohol in your system while you were driving?

To the surprise of many people, it’s possible to obtain a DUI charge without even having a sip of alcohol. While 79% of people see alcohol as a serious problem for driver safety, only 28-29% of people feel the same about legal drugs such as marijuana or antidepressants (even though both of these can impair a person’s driving ability).

Here are just a few things you need to know about DUI laws in Colorado pertaining to drugged driving:

    • According to Section 42-4-1301(1) of the Colorado Vehicle and Traffic Code, it is a misdemeanor to operate a motor vehicle (either a passenger or commercial vehicle) while under the influence of a drug or controlled substance. This law applies to “habitual users,” which means that drug addicts who depend on illegal substances to function “normally” can be convicted of DUI, as can people who legally consume certain prescription drugs.


    • The law is aimed more toward illegal drugs and prescription drugs listed as “controlled substances,” which are drugs/chemicals that are regulated tightly by the government (and are often misused or abused).


    • Even an over-the-counter medicine, such as a nighttime cold medicine, can warrant a DUI charge because it causes drowsiness, which renders your driving ability impaired. (Something like ibuprofen, on the other hand, isn’t likely to cause impaired judgment or reflexes and is therefore typically exempt.) The best way to figure out which drugs fall under this restriction is to check the prescription/packaging for warnings about operating heavy machinery or driving.


  • If you happen to be pulled over under the suspicion of DUI, Colorado’s Express Consent law mandates that you take a chemical test (usually a blood draw test performed at a medical facility) to determine which, if any, drugs may be in your system. Refusing to take a chemical test results in a license suspension of at least one year, even if your legal representative makes a strong case for you in court.

Presenting a successful DUI defense certainly isn’t easy and in especially complicated cases, it’s always a good idea to make sure that you have the best DUI lawyers acting as your legal representatives in court. Even though alcohol-related crashes tend to be publicized more often than drugged driving incidents (costing around $59 billion annually), and even though it’s harder for traffic lawyers to prove DUI involving drugs, this is still a serious charge that requires the best possible legal representative.

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