DUI laws are commonly associated with drunk driving. However, there are many substances other than alcohol that can lead to a DUI charge in Colorado. A person can be charged with a DUI if that person drives a vehicle when they are impaired from alcohol, or drugs (irrespective of whether the drugs are legal, like marijuana or illegal). In some instances, even lawful medications prescribed by a physician can lead to a DUI charge.

A conviction of driving under the influence (DUI) requires drivers to have a BAC of 0.08%. DUI also includes the use of drugs that substantially incapacitates — either mentally and/or physically — a driver from exercising clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a motor vehicle.

Let’s look at what substances can lead to a DUI charge in the state of Colorado.

Colorado’s Definition of “Drug”

Under Colorado laws, a drug means any controlled substance. Even over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs qualify. It also includes other substances, like inhaled glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapors.

What constitutes a “drug” is quite an extensive list kept by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). The USP is responsible for identifying drug substances and therapeutic products, including nutritional and dietary supplements. Colorado also recognizes drugs listed by the national formulary or the official homeopathic pharmacopeia of the United States.

Substances intended for a diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in individuals or animals also qualify as a drug for DUI purposes. Also, substances meant to affect the structure of human functions or animals is classified as a drug.

Some examples of drugs that can lead to a DUI include:

  • Even though marijuana is a legal drug in Colorado, you can’t drive a car if you’ve been smoking it or consuming it in another way. Marijuana can cause disorientation by slowing a person’s reaction times during driving. It can also alter perceptions of space and time and increases the chances of an accident. The fact that a person has a medical reason for marijuana use cannot be used as a defense.
  • Cocaine is an illegal substance and driving under its influence can land you a DUI. Cocaine causes mental disorientation, dizziness, confusion, and many other symptoms that can make driving especially dangerous.
  • Heroin falls in the class of opioids. It slows the user’s reflexes, including the respiratory system, often resulting in slow responses and excessive sleepiness. It is a cheap alternative for prescription opioids, such as oxycontin.
  • The drug is a highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. “Meth” is usually sold in the U.S. and is illegal. Methamphetamine hydrochloride (Desoxyn) is an FDA-approved prescription medication used to treat medical conditions like ADHD and obesity.
  • Phencyclidine, also known as “angel dust,” is used for its mind-altering effects. It’s a dangerous drug, and its use is illegal.
  • Antidepressants are prescribed medications used to treat depressive disorders and other conditions, including anxiety and chronic pain. They can cause mind-altering sensations, dizziness, drowsiness and slowed responses.

Contacting an Experienced Attorney

A law enforcement officer or medical professional can administer a breathalyzer or blood test to determine a driver’s BAC or presence of a substance. Because Colorado maintains an “express consent” law, any driver suspected of DUI must submit to a breathalyzer or blood test. Refusal to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test can be used against the driver.

Our lawyers at the Moorhead Law Group have a demonstrated track record of great defense. If you have been arrested for DUI or another criminal matter, contact our office at 303-586-6912 or online.