How Does Drugged Driving Differ From Drunk Driving?

Especially with recreational marijuana use being legal in Colorado, there are more people in this state who may find themselves facing a DUI or DWAI because of marijuana in their system.

The laws against DUI and DWAI do not single out marijuana. Basically, if a person operates a vehicle while legally under the influence in Colorado, whether the substance involved is alcohol, one or more drugs, or some combination of both alcohol and drugs really does not matter.

In other words, a person will still face the serious penalties of a DUI or DWAI. These penalties are for first-time offenders who have no other aggravating circumstances. These penalties include jail time, fines, license suspensions, probation and other penalties.

Additionally, a DUI or DWAI will appear on the person’s criminal record and so may have to be explained when the person applies for a job or other important opportunity.

There Are Not the Same Per Se Rules for Marijuana, Other Drugs

However, unlike alcohol, there is not the same per se rule in Colorado’s DUI statute for marijuana or other drugs.

To give an example, with respect to alcohol, someone who submits to a legal breath or blood test which shows at least .08 blood alcohol content is presumed to have been driving under the influence of alcohol.

There is not the same presumption for drugs..

Because there is not the same presumption, in many cases, the prosecutor and police will have to prove with evidence, such as erratic driving, field sobriety tests and the like, that a person was actually under the influence or driving with ability impaired.

Also, the investigation of a drug-related DUI is different because the symptoms of being under the influence of drugs are frequently separate from the symptoms of alcohol consumption.

It is also well known that some drugs, including marijuana, stay in a person’s system for days or even weeks.

This means that a person accused of drugged driving may have some additional defenses available. Nevertheless, resolving a DUI or DWAI can still be complicated. A person accused of these charges should consider seeking professional legal representation.

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