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Colorado takes aim at drivers who drive while high

In Jan. of this year, Colorado passed a measure to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Since that time, law enforcement officials around the state have ramped up efforts to identify those drivers who may be driving while high. Much like the public service campaigns waged against drinking and driving, the Colorado Department of Transportation recently kicked off the agency's "Drive-High, Get a DUI" public safety campaign.

As part of the anti-drugged driving campaign, Colorado residents will begin regularly seeing TV spots, many of which attempt to use humor to get their point across. According to the CDOT, some members of Colorado’s law enforcement team have also been trained to determine whether or not a driver may be under the influence of marijuana. According to the CDOT, In addition to being able to spot physical signs of possible marijuana use, these specially trained officers are also able to chemically test drivers suspected of drugged driving.

Colorado has established a legal impairment level of five nanograms of the main component found in marijuana. Drivers found to be above the legal level are treated much like those drivers found to have a blood alcohol content of .08 or above. Possible penalties associated with a DUI drugged driving conviction include fines, driver's license revocation and potential jail time.

Prior to Jan. 2014, the CDOT was not able to successfully track the number of drivers arrested for marijuana impairment. The lack of hard numbers related to drugged driving arrests is largely a result of the state toxicology lab closing last year after allegations were made that the lab heavily favored prosecutors.

Colorado drivers who face criminal charges related to driving under the influence of marijuana would be wise to take such charges seriously and retain an attorney. While laws and penalties related to the use and restrictions of marijuana are new, the consequences of a marijuana DUI conviction are serious and can adversely impact an individual's personal and professional life.

Source: The Gazette, "Colorado launches campaign to stop stoned driving," March 6, 2014Colorado DOT, "Drugged Driving," 2014

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