According to a recent report by the Denver Post, marijuana-related deadly auto crashes have increased significantly in Colorado since pot was legalized in 2013.

Now, law enforcement officers may have a new technology to help them detect if drivers are high.

The marijuana breathalyzer, also called the "drugalyzer," is small enough to be used at a traffic stop.

More formally known as the Dräger DrugTest 5000, this gadget can test for 7 different types of substances including cocaine, amphetamines, methadone, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana.

The test can also reveal whether a driver has eaten or smoked pot within the last 6 hours.

The marijuana breathalyzer tests saliva using non-invasive sample collector, and produces rapid results. The device can also be used to test samples of unknown substances that may be found in your car.

Currently, drivers in most states can refuse this type of saliva testing — including Colorado drivers. But that may soon change.

Some states, like Michigan, are already implementing laws which make it illegal to refuse a saliva test. More states may soon follow suit.

Marijuana and Driving in Colorado

It’s important to know your marijuana rights when driving in Colorado. Colorado law mandates that any driver who has 5 nanograms or more of active THC in a sample of their blood may be arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI).

There’s no way you can estimate what your blood THC level is. Regardless of the blood sample level of THC, police officers will base their arrest on your observed state of impairment.

Even if you use marijuana medicinally, you can still be arrested if your ability to drive is impaired. If you have children in your vehicle, you could also face an additional charge of child abuse.

Colorado is one of the many states that have an open container law for marijuana. This means it’s against the law to have any amount of marijuana or any marijuana paraphernalia in the driver or passenger area of the vehicle if it’s in an open container or a container with an open seal.

It’s also against the law to have any evidence that marijuana has been used in the car.

Police Protocol for Marijuana DUIs

The marijuana breathalyzer is not currently being used by police in Colorado. But Colorado police officers are trained to determine if a driver is impaired by the use of marijuana or other drugs.

The training focuses on the driver’s behaviors, like if their speech is slurred or their reactions are slower than normal.

If a police officer thinks you’re driving while impaired, you’ll be asked to take a blood test. If you refuse, you’ll be considered a high-risk driver.

The consequences of being considered a high-risk driver include a 2-year mandatory ignition interlock — a device which requires the driver to blow into it before the car’s ignition will start — as well as education and therapy classes.

These penalties are mandatory, regardless of whether you’re convicted of pot DUI charges.

Penalties for a Marijuana DUI in Colorado

Driving high in Colorado can result in a variety of penalties. The severity of these penalties depends on the number of times you’ve been charged, and on your age.

For those under 21 years old:

  • A first offense results in a 3-month license suspension,
  • a fine of $100, and
  • a maximum of 24 hours of community service.

A second offense results in a 6-month license suspension, and a third offense results in a 1-year license suspension.

For adults of 21 years or older:

  • The first offense results in a maximum 9-month license suspension,
  • between 5 days and a year of jail time, and
  • a fine between $600 and $1,000, and/or 48 to 96 hours of community service

A second marijuana DUI offense results in a one-year license suspension, between 10 days and one year jail time, a fine between $600 and $1,500, and/or 48 to 120 hours of community service.

A third offense results in license suspension for up to two years, between 60 days and a year jail time, a fine between $600 and $1,500, and/or 48 to 120 hours of public service.

Any driver who has 3 or more pot DUI offenses within 7 years will also be charged as a habitual traffic offender, and could lose his or her license for a maximum of 5 years.

What to do if You’ve Been Charged with a Marijuana DUI

If you’ve been charged with a marijuana DUI in Colorado, you’ll need legal advice from an attorney who has experience dealing with pot DUI charges. That’s where we come in.

At Rogers & Moss, we have over 60 years of combined experience. We can explain your marijuana rights as they pertain to your specific case, and help you minimize the consequences of your marijuana DUI conviction.

Call us now to find a solution to your marijuana DUI charges >