Marijuana's active chemical THC has been shown to impair driving, but there is no established legal blood level for THC in Colorado, though the legislature has tried to establish a legal limit.
June 10, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Recent efforts in Colorado to precisely define marijuana-impaired driving have fallen short. State lawmakers failed to pass a bill that would have mandated a specific blood concentration limit on THC, the substance that makes marijuana users high. The proposed law would have established a standard limit, similar to driving under the influence of alcohol limit of .08 percent blood alcohol level.
Marijuana's Effects on Drivers
Marijuana is the illegal drug most commonly found in traffic accident victims and impaired drivers. THC acts on parts of the brain that govern memory and judgment, along with physical characteristics like coordination, balance and sensations. Studies have shown that marijuana has negative effects on perception of speed and time and can diminish a driver's attentiveness. Impairment due to marijuana worsens with increased blood level of THC, according to researchers.
An Australian study of more than 3,000 drivers who died in motor vehicle accidents revealed that the drivers with marijuana in their systems were more likely to have been at fault for the accidents that killed them.
Efforts to Regulate Drugged Driving
Only a couple of states have a legal limit for THC, and the threshold for THC impairment varies state to state. A major reason why drugged driving laws have lagged behind drunk driving laws in establishing legal limits is that experts do not agree as to what level of each drug, including marijuana, definitively causes impaired driving.
Furthermore, while testing blood alcohol is simple, tests for levels of illegal drugs are complicated by the fact that these drugs can persist in the body for many days after a person consumes them.
Colorado's law enforcement lobby wants to set a clear THC blood-level limit and is likely to give it another try. The latest proposal in the legislature was the third attempt to pass a marijuana DUI law, and the vote was so close that another try in the near future could succeed.
Under current law in Colorado, prosecutors rely on testimony by the arresting officers to obtain convictions for drugged driving based on observations of driving behavior. The assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney is important for anyone arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana. Defendants remain innocent until proven guilty.
Article provided by Anaya, Foley & McKedy, P.C.
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