When Colorado marijuana laws under Amendment 64 passed, making it legal for individuals 21 years and older to possess and use marijuana, one issue that hadn’t been addressed was driving under the influence of pot. If someone was involved in an accident and had been using marijuana, could that person be charged with a DUI?
On February 26, 2013, the Colorado House Judiciary Committee passed House Bill 13-1114, which addresses this very issue. However, it continues to be a hot button topic, with some arguing the requirements aren’t strict enough and others saying they are too strict.
If you’re in an accident with a driver whose use of marijuana was a contributing factor to an accident in Denver, Colorado, an auto accident lawyer may consider impairment as evidence of that driver’s fault.
When would a driver be charged with driving under the influence of pot?
Under House Bill 13-1114, Colorado marijuana laws would consider a driver to be under the influence if there is five or more nanograms of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milliliter in his or her blood. THC is what gives the drug its effect.
A driver would be charged with DUI if found to be driving under the influence of pot at the time he or she was behind the wheel. So if someone was involved in a car accident, a blood test may be used to determine if the person was impaired.
However, those who regularly smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes may argue that at five nanograms he or she isn’t impaired. Or that the levels can still be high in someone’s bloodstream even hours or days after smoking marijuana.
Of course, this also depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident. If the marijuana user didn’t appear to be at fault, it may not be a factor. However, if the person ran a red light or otherwise acted in a negligent manner, influence could be considered a contributing factor.
Although the bill was passed by the Colorado House Judiciary Committee, these proposed Colorado marijuana laws still have to go through House Appropriations Committee. If it passes, it will then go to the House, followed by the Senate.
Colorado Marijuana Laws and Car Accident Evidence
At this point, it could be very difficult to charge a driver with DUI if driving under the influence of pot, although clear impairment may be considered negligent behavior and a Denver, Colorado auto accident lawyer may address this if filing a claim.
Further, if there was a clear violation of traffic laws, this could be used as evidence in a personal injury claim, too. Examples include running a stop sign and speeding.
A Denver, Colorado auto accident lawyer may also seek statements from witnesses who can testify to unusual driving behavior, such as weaving in and out of traffic. A copy of the police report can also help establish the cause of the crash and may contain information regarding driver impairment.
For help determining the viability of a claim in Denver, Colorado, victims may consult an auto accident lawyer who can review the circumstances of the case such as whether another driver was driving under the influence of pot, and evaluate how Colorado marijuana laws or impairment may affect driver negligence.