Driving while impaired due to drugs or alcohol is always a recipe for disaster. Getting arrested and charged with a DUI (driving under the influence) in Colorado is serious enough, but an impaired driver could kill themselves or others on the roadways. As more and more states move to legalize marijuana, many legislators, law enforcement, and the public are trying to determine the differences between driving drunk and driving high.

Driving Drunk

The statistics are harrowing. Blood alcohol concentration levels of 0.05 percent (less than the legal limit) and above, increases a driver’s odds of a car accident seven fold. The Centers for Disease Control stated that in 2016, 10,497 people died from alcohol-related crashes, which accounted for almost 30 percent of all fatal road accidents.

The ability to test for driving while under the influence of alcohol is very simple. If a driver refuses to submit to a breathalyzer test, they may be required to submit to a blood test to determine how much alcohol is in their bloodstream. If a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is above 0.08 percent, they can be convicted of a DUI regardless of any appearance of impairment. If a driver has a BAC above 0.17 percent or higher, they could be charged with an aggravated DUI with even harsher penalties.

Driving High

The State of Colorado has passed a law attempting to define what the “marijuana-impaired driving” threshold is, similar to drunk driving. Colorado sets the blood THC threshold (the chemical in marijuana) at  five nanograms per milliliter. Unfortunately, that number is elusive and does not really determine if a person is impaired due to marijuana use (also known as being “high.”) THC can stay in a person’s system for a considerable amount of time depending on the frequency marijuana is consumed and the quantity. The evidence clearly shows that marijuana use impairs driving skills and those who drive while high are endangering themselves and everyone else on the roadways. Several companies are currently developing different breathalyzers for the purpose of testing marijuana impairment.

The good news is that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report shows that drivers who use marijuana are at a substantially lower risk level for a car accident than drivers who use alcohol. In fact, the study surprisingly showed that those drivers who tested positive for marijuana use were no more likely to crash than those who had not used any drugs or alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel of a car. That said, most experts still agree that driving while under the influence of marijuana leads to substantially more risk for accidents due to delayed reaction times of drivers.

Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney

If you are facing a charge of driving while drunk or high in the State of Colorado, you want to ensure that your legal rights are protected. If you are facing any type of DUI charge, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at The Moorhead Law Group at 303-447-1400 or online today to discuss your legal options and your next steps.