Colorado law makes it illegal to drive under the influence of any drug — even marijuana. Drugs that slow reaction time and impair clear thinking can lead to devastating effects if you get behind the wheel. You can receive a DUI if you drive while high, even if you just took over-the-counter cough medicine, used marijuana, or are on certain prescription medications.
In 2013, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reported 103 roadway fatalities statewide due to drugged drivers. Almost 13 percent of these drivers had only marijuana in their system when tested.
It is also important to note that these statistics are from the year before marijuana became legal in Colorado; a state report released in spring of 2016 shows a three percent increase in marijuana DUIs and a 44 percent increase in traffic fatalities involving THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana).
What are the risks of driving while high?
THC can affect your body in many ways, and almost all of them can impact your ability to drive a car. Some of these effects include:
- Slowed reaction time
- Trouble with short-term memory
- Loss of concentration
- Difficulty perceiving distance
- Problems with hand-eye coordination
- Decreased alertness
Some strains of cannabis also have different effects than others. For example, indica strains are often prescribed for insomnia, nausea, and chronic pain because they tend to be extremely sedating. They also have a higher level of THC, and may impair users more than other strains.
How do Colorado laws handle DUIs involving marijuana?
While you may not get arrested for possessing marijuana for personal use in Colorado anymore, you may still face serious legal consequences for using the drug and getting behind the wheel.
Driving while high can end in a license suspension, jail time, and fines. Causing a crash can result in elevated charges, including vehicular assault or homicide.
You are probably aware of the legal BAC limit for drunk driving, 0.08 percent. But do you know the legal limit of marijuana? Under Colorado law, you cannot have more than five nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood and drive without facing legal consequences.
In addition, Colorado has open container laws outlining the use of marijuana on public roadways in the state. Per this law, drivers cannot have an open container — meaning any container with the seal broken — in the passenger compartment of a vehicle in Colorado.
Drivers can also face penalties for breaking the state’s open container statute if there is any evidence of marijuana use in the cabin of the car. This includes dirty pipes, vapes, and empty containers.
To ensure all motorists are aware of these laws, the CDOT is working closely with a number of other agencies to implement an anti-drugged driving campaign statewide. The education efforts of this campaign center on the dangers of driving while high on marijuana, while using illegal drugs, or while taking certain prescription medications.
Who is liable after a Colorado drugged driving crash?
In the vast majority of cases, the driver who choose to get behind the wheel while impaired is liable for the damages sustained in a drugged driving crash. Driving under the influence, whether using alcohol or drugs, is a serious offense under Colorado law. Those who choose to drive while high and cause accidents often face major legal and civil consequences. This is especially true if the accident leads to severe, disabling injuries or death.
If you suffered injuries because of a drugged driver, you are eligible to file a claim against him/her and collect compensation for your medical treatment, lost wages, and more. In many cases, courts award punitive damages designed to punish the driver in addition to the victim’s actual losses.
Do I need to talk to a lawyer if I suffered injuries caused by an impaired driver?
If a drugged driver caused a crash and you suffered serious injuries, you should schedule a free case evaluation with a skilled Denver car accident attorney. This consultation serves many purposes, including:
- Determining the strength of your case
- Ensuring your rights remain protected
- Determining the estimated value of your case
If you decide to enlist the assistance of a lawyer, she will go to work collecting evidence to bolster your claim. This evidence varies widely from case to case, but often includes:
- Police reports about the accident
- The chemical test results of the liable party
- Expert witnesses to examine these tests
- Your medical records
- Accident reconstructions
- Eyewitness testimony
Contact the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya, LLC to Learn More
If you suffered injuries as a result of an accident involving a drugged driver, contact us today. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya, LLC can help you get the compensation you need while holding the impaired driver responsible for his or her actions.
Call us at 303-758-4777 to schedule your free consultation.