When an officer stops your vehicle, they may immediately wonder if you are driving under the influence of drugs, especially if your vehicle smells like weed, your eyes are bloodshot, and your speech is slow or slurred. When this happens, the officer may ask you to get out of your car and perform roadside tests. This gives them a chance to examine you more closely and look for signs of impairment.
Driving under the influence of drugs (DUI-D) is a serious criminal offense. From marijuana to heroin, as well as many prescription medications, Colorado individuals may face serious penalties and consequences if they drive while under the influence. This includes driving under the influence of prescription medications and even some over-the-counter medications.
If you are arrested and charged with DUI-D, you need an experienced criminal defense law firm on your side. At Liberty Law Center, our Colorado Springs DUI-D lawyers understand the complexities of DUI-D cases. We know that the Colorado courts often prosecute these crimes harshly. We work quickly to protect your driving record and your future.
What to Do If You’re Arrested on Suspicion of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
If you are arrested on suspicion of DUI-D in Colorado, it is important to follow these steps to ensure a better outcome.
Comply with the officers. Resisting arrest never helps anyone. Do what the officers say but refrain from answering questions that may prove incriminating. However, you DO NOT have to complete roadside maneuvers- they are voluntary
Know your rights. You have a right to remain silent. Be sure to focus on your rights and avoid saying anything that might be used against you in court. Your right to remain silent is absolute, and you do not have to tell the officers anything that could potentially be used against you.Do not refuse testing. Colorado’s express consent law means that you must take a blood test if suspected of DUI-D. However, you can refuse this test. If you refuse, you will face stiff penalties.
Do not refuse to take the test. Instead, comply with testing and then proceed to the next step!
Contact an attorney. You have a right to legal representation. As such, call a DUI-D defense lawyer as soon as you are able. Your attorney can advise you on the best way to proceed after an arrest.
What is a DUI-D?
DUI-D is an acronym that stands for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs. Colorado’s law treats DUI-D the same as DUI, and the penalties can severely disrupt your life. Any amount of illegal drugs in your system can result in charges of DUI-D. Additionally, certain legal drugs can also be used to convict you for DUI-D, if they impair your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
According to the Denver Police Department, DUI-D citations for mairjuana or marijuana in combo with other drugs doubled from 2013 to 2017. They represent 15 percent of all DUIs on the road now.
Since the legalization of marijuana, many drivers in Colorado have THC in their blood system, even after not using any marijuana products for hours or even days. This doesn’t mean that they are driving under the influence. It has never been easy to determine if a driver is actively under the influence of marijuana, but it takes no more than an admission to smoking or an odor of burnt marijuana to make the cops think you are under the influence.
What are the Differences Between DUID, DWAI, and DUI?
There are substantial differences between DUI-D (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs) and DUI(Driving Under the Influence) based on a suspicion of alcohol consumption.
A DUI-D is the same as a DUI, but it involves impairment by drugs and not alcohol. When it comes to alcohol, there are set limits in the law that can be used to determine if you are driving while impaired (DWAI) or under the influence(DUI). These limits are .05-.079 BAC for DWAI, and .08 BAC and above for DUI. Most other drugs don’t have these limits, so it often comes down to how the person reacts during their interaction with the police officer.
One drug that does have a “limit” is marijuana. Marijuana, specifically the psychoactive component of Marijuana called THC, has a legal limit of five nanograms (5 ng/L) per liter of blood. This limit is very low, and there are many regular marijuana users who have residual THC in their blood at all times that can be significantly above this limit. Fortunately, the limit for THC is not the same as the limits set for alcohol. The THC limit is what is known as a “permissible inference” limit, which can make all the difference in defending your case.
What is Colorado’s Permissible Inference Law?
The term “permissible inference” means that a jury may use the evidence presented to them as proof that someone is under the influence, but it is not required. In contrast, if someone has a BAC of .08, the law says that person is under the influence, and the evidence of the blood is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the person is under the influence, regardless of driving behaviors.
What this means is that having marijuana/THC in your blood is not enough to convict you of a DUI-D by itself. Without proof of consumption, time of last use, poor driving behaviors, etc., the prosecution may be hard pressed to convict you of a DUI-D. Whether someone is substantially over or under the limit is not enough to convict that person without more indicators of impairment.
What Test is Used to Determine a DUI-D?
The amount of THC in your blood can be tested by either a urine or blood test. However, a blood test is the preferred testing method. No breathalyzer can test for THC. In Colorado, you only have the option to take a blood test, if an officer suspects you are impaired by drugs of any kind. If you do not comply with the test, you will lose your license and they will treat you more harshly at the DMV.
Officers will gather evidence to show that your driving was impaired or unsafe at the time of your arrest. This may include:
Violating Colorado traffic laws
Weaving in and out of your lane
Driving too fast or too slow
Appearing stoned, such as bloodshot eyes and slurred speech
Smelling like marijuana
Finding marijuana paraphernalia or marijuana in your car
Additionally, officers will ask you to participate in the roadside maneuvers, to help them determine if you are under the influence. These tests are voluntary, and you do not have to participate. If an officer fails to inform you that the maneuvers are voluntary could result in potential defenses in your case.
What is a Drug Recognition Expert?
A drug recognition expert(DRE) is typically a law enforcement officer who has undergone specialized drug training. This training includes specific education, testing, and licensure, which enables them to detect signs of drug use impairment better than other officers. Drug recognition experts are trained to recognize the differences between drugs and are often used when law enforcement believes someone is guilty of DUI-D. Not all officers are trained in the recognition of drug impairment. If you are contacted by police and they ask if you would be willing to submit to an evaluation or maneuvers with a DRE, remember that the evaluation and maneuvers are voluntary.
Legal Drugs / Medications and a DUID
Many Colorado drivers are surprised to learn that law enforcement can arrest them for DUI-D even when taking prescription medications or legal drugs. To obtain a DUI-D conviction, prosecutors must show that you were impaired while driving due to the use of the drugs, no matter how you obtained it or what that drug may be.
Even if you have a prescription or were taking an over-the-counter medication, you are still responsible for not driving impaired. Your doctor or pharmacist should have warned you of the side effects of your medication. If the label on your prescription bottle states “do not operate heavy machinery,” then you should not drive while taking that medication.
What is Express Consent?
If you drive on Colorado roads, you consent to take a chemical test if you are arrested for suspicion of DUI-D. This is called “express consent.” This means that if you are arrested, you must submit to a DUI blood test, if the officer suspects you of driving under the influence of drugs.
If you refuse to take this test, you will face serious penalties and consequences that may be more severe than a conviction. For example, if you refuse to take a chemical test for DUI-D, your license can be suspended for one to three years, and the DMV will require you to obtain SR-22 auto insurance and install an interlock device in your car for two years, even though you may not have consumed any alcohol.
How Much Weed Can I Have in my System While Driving?
Marijuana affects everyone differently. Individuals who regularly smoke marijuana may tolerate higher levels of THC than first-time users.
The effect of marijuana can also vary widely depending on many factors, including:
Strength and strain of marijuana used
Whether it was smoked or ingested (edibles)
Other drugs or alcohol in your system
Whether you’ve eaten before using marijuana
However, as stated previously, the law will presume you are driving impaired if you have more than five nanograms or more of THC per milliliter in your blood. However, you can still get arrested and charged with DUID even if you have less than five nanograms of THC in your blood. If you show signs of driving impaired, you can still find yourself charged with DUID.
What are the Most Common DUI-D Drugs in Colorado?
In Colorado, the most common DUID drugs include, but are not limited to:
It is crucial to have a Colorado Springs DUI-D lawyer on your side who understands the differences between these drugs and the consequences you face.
The penalties for DUID in Colorado are the same as for DUI of alcohol. These consequences can adversely affect your entire life and significantly jeopardize your job, your ability to provide for your family, and your driving record.
Common DUID Penalties for Everyone
In addition to fines, jail time, driver’s license suspension, and community service, drivers who are convicted of DUID face additional penalties, including:
Five days to one year in jail (two to 180 days for a DWAI)
Fines up to $1,000 ($500 for a DWAI)
Loss of driver’s license for 9 months
Up to 96 hours community service (maximum of 48 for a DWAI)
Alcohol treatment and education classes
If your BAC is over 0.15%, Colorado designates you as a Colorado persistent drunk driver for purposes of your driver’s license, even if this is your first DUI. If your BAC is over 0.2, the law requires a mandatory jail sentence of 10 days.
Second Time DUID Penalties
10 days to 1 year in jail
Fines between $600 and $1,500
Loss of driver’s license up to 1 year
Mandatory ignition interlock device for two years after your license suspension is done
Mandatory alcohol education
Community service 48-120 hours
Third Time DUID Penalties
60 days to 1 year in jail
Fines between $600 and $1,500
Loss of driver’s license for two years
Mandatory ignition interlock device for two years after your license suspension is done
Mandatory alcohol education
Community service 48-120 hours
Why Choose the DUI-D Attorneys at Liberty Law Center
We care about you, and understand that being arrested on DUI-D charges is frightening and challenging at the same time. Every DUI-D attorney at Liberty Law Center seeks to minimize the impact on your life and your future with a thorough, aggressive defense.
People rely on Liberty Law Center for many reasons, including our:
Small-firm/ Personalized Service — We handle sophisticated DUI and DUI-D cases with the highest degree of professionalism do so in a small-firm environment.
Strong Recommendations — Peers, judges, and former clients have recognized Liberty Law Center’s achievements over Colorado’s decades of practice.
Experienced / Knowledgable Staff — We have been serving Colorado clients for over 40 years. Our lawyers and employees have the background and commitment necessary to provide high-quality, caring representation whether your case is highly contentious or can be resolved amicably.
Reasonable Retainers — Our Colorado Springs DUI-D attorneys believe everyone should have access to quality legal representation. We work with our clients to break down the payment barriers to provide the legal support you deserve.
DUI-D Defense Strategies
When you are arrested and charged with DUI-D, you may feel hopeless. However, with the right DUI-D defense lawyer, you can fight these charges and secure your freedom. There are many legal defenses your DUI-D lawyer can use when representing you. Do not give up without a fight!
Here are just some of the DUI-D defense strategies your Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer can use.
Your DUI-D blood test showed less than five nanograms of THC
You did not drive impaired
The law enforcement officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over
The police officer did not inform you of your Miranda rights
A blood test was performed incorrectly
Errors in DUI-D blood test
You drove poorly for other reasons not related to THC, such as being sick
If you were arrested and charged with DUI-D in Colorado Springs, you need a law firm on your side that can fight back. You need Liberty Law Center. Our skilled defense lawyers know how to fight these serious charges, and we work tirelessly to have DUI-D charges dismissed or reduced.
For more than three decades, the attorneys at Liberty Law Center have represented thousands of drivers suspected of DUI-D. So give us a call because Liberty Law Center is here to help.
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