Denver Colorado Criminal Law Blog

Marijuana Impaired Driving is a Crime

Colorado motorists may be prosecuted for driving under the influence or driving while impaired if their ability to drive is impaired in any way by alcohol, legal drugs such as marijuana or a combination of alcohol and drugs. Each day in Colorado, on average, over 60 motorists are arrested for DUI involving drugs, alcohol, or a combination of these substances.


Like prosecutions for drunk driving charges, law enforcement observes and documents driving impairment. Blood levels may also be measured for marijuana impaired driving arrests.

Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive substance in cannabis that creates impairment. Delta 9 THC becomes inactive after the body metabolizes it. However, this can take hours and leave users at risk of arrest. It also stays in the body longer and shows up in blood tests which places drivers, especially habitual users, at risk of a DUI arrest.

You can be arrested for a DUI for driving with a combination of cannabis and alcohol in your system even if the blood alcohol content and Delta 9 active THC levels are below legal limits.

Cannabis has physiological effects that are measurable and impair driving and reaction time in critical situations.  Cannabis also increases the effects of alcohol and impairment.


All Colorado law enforcement are trained in detecting impaired driving. Many officers also undergo advanced drug recognition experts training.

DRE officers are trained to detect physical and psychophysical drug impairment signs. Currently, there are 226 DRES representing 79 law enforcement agencies in Colorado including 62 DREs with the state patrol.


A motorist may be arrested for a DWI or DWAI if their ability to drive is affected. Arrests are based police observations of driving behavior and impairment.  Even if you hold a medical marijuana card, you may be prosecuted for a DUI if you are impaired.

Drivers arrested for suspected DUI must undergo chemical testing. A laboratory tests these toxicological samples.

Fines from $200 to $1,500 may be imposed. The cost of a DUI may go up to $13,500 when additional fees are added.


Drivers and passengers may not carry open cannabis packaging or use that product while in a vehicle. Traffic laws prohibit having a cannabis product with a broken seal, consuming some of the product and there is evidence that it was used in the vehicle.

Drivers and vehicle occupants must also comply with legal possession limits. A person over 21 may possess up to one ounce of cannabis in Colorado.

A DUI or DWAI may be costly, threaten your driving privileges and have other serious consequences. An attorney can help you protect your rights if you are arrested for these charges.

Peter Albani round headshot Criminal defense attorney Denver, Colorado

Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney

Peter Albani is a Colorado criminal defense attorney with a statewide law practice. He routinely represents clients on criminal matters ranging from DUI to homicide. Albani Law represents clients in Park County (Fairplay), Summit County (Breckenridge), Lake County (Leadville), Eagle County (Eagle), Chaffee County (Salida), and all Front Range Colorado Counties.

Call Peter at (303) 753-0900 and he will take your phone call personally.

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