Marijuana DUI and the 5 Nanogram Limit
Even though marijuana legalization is something new to the state of Colorado, the law stating that it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana is not. What has changed is the new legal inference that jurors can use when determining whether an individual was under the influence at the time of the traffic stop.
Colorado’s New Legal Inference: 5 Nanograms of THC
It took several attempts, but Colorado’s legislature finally passed the DUI THC bill (Bill 1114). This new law states that a jury can deem an individual legally under the influence of marijuana if a blood test finds 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter present in that person’s blood stream. This new legal inference can make a significant difference for individuals at trial on drugged driving charges. Prior to this law, law enforcement officials still used blood tests to determine how much TCH was in a person’s body. These blood tests were admitted in court, and attorneys on both sides of a case would then have a chance to convince a jury what that blood test really meant. Now, such arguments are no longer necessary. Instead, a jury could legally decide that an individual was under the influence of marijuana based on the results of a single blood test alone. Attorney Jay Tiftickjian finds this inference troublesome.
The Drawback of the 5 Nanogram Inference
Attorney Tiftickjian is happy that the new law doesn’t make being over the limit an automatic DUI, but he still has an issue with the limit itself. According to attorney Tiftickjian, “[Marijuana] affects people differently. One person could be well over 5 nanograms and yet not have had any marijuana intake for the last 5 or 6 hours. And someone could have had a little bit and been over that recently. There’s no real set way to tell people ‘this is where your limits are’ because we don’t know what these numbers mean.” In Jay Tiftickjian’s eyes, the legislature went too far in setting this legal inference. To him, this is not like driving under the influence of alcohol. At least for regular DUIs, “we have 20 to 30 years of studies to back up the limits on blood alcohol content. We don’t have that for marijuana. We’re jumping the gun here by putting out numbers where we don’t necessarily know what they mean.”
Supporters of the Inference See It as a Deterrent
Supporters of the new legal inference believe that it will act as a deterrent. They say that this law will send a clear message to individuals who use marijuana. In short, if someone gets behind the wheel after smoking marijuana, they will know that the consequences will be the same as if you drank alcohol and then chose to drive.
Don’t Use and Drive. If You Do, Call Tiftickjian Law Firm.
Jay Tiftickjian’s practical advice is the same for individuals who drink and drive as for those who use and drive: If you use or drink, don’t get behind the wheel. This is already against the law and will continue to be against the law. And current numbers indicate that Colorado police are increasing enforcement of driving under the influence of marijuana. In 2009, the state’s blood lab performed roughly 700 tests for THC. Last year that number nearly tripled to more than 2,000 tests. It just makes sense to stay off the road if you have been using.
If you do get behind the wheel while under the influence and you get caught, or if an officer charges you with DUI-D even though you haven’t used for many hours or even days, call on Tiftickjian Law Firm, P.C. We have literally written many books on DUI defense in Colorado and are leading the way in representing clients facing DUI-D charges. Call us at 303-384-5280 or contact our Denver law firm online for immediate help in handling your DUI offense.