Colorado drivers now need to learn new limits for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID). House Bill 1325, which sets limits on blood levels for driving after smoking marijuana, has been passed by the Colorado Senate and now awaits Governor John Hickenlooper’s signature. If signed by the governor, drivers whose blood exceeds five nanograms per millileter (ng/mL) of THC per milliliter will be presumed to be driving while stoned.
The bill allows drivers who have been charged with DUID to argue whether they were impaired at the five ng/mL level. This is unlike impairment of alcohol charges because the driver cannot argue whether the 0.08 blood alcohol level (B.A.C.) truly impairs the driver.
The legislature drafted the bill to allow the driver to refute the five ng/mL level because THC can linger in users for longer periods of time. Typically the ng/mL level of THC is extremely high upon initial use and drops off after two to six hours. Some studies have indicated that habitual users would not be affected by this law because habitual users can sustain a level of THC below five ng/mL days after use.
On the other hand, other studies have shown that users may still have ng/mL levels more than five days after use. Dr. Lantz, the head toxicologist from Rocky Mountain Labs, claims to have test results from an individual showing a 20 ng/mL level at 24 hours after last use. At this level, the legislature feels someone is too high to drive, but the legislature has recognized that it’s next to impossible to determine actual impairment via a blood test under currently available testing technology. Therefore, the legislature has written the bill in a manner that allows users to argue whether their ng/mL level amounted to actual impairment.
A rule that allows users to argue level of impairment is important in this case because the test for ng/mL is the high margin of error the results can show. Testing for THC in the blood can result in a 30% margin of error. This means the test results could show a five ng/mL level when the actual level could be as low as three ng/mL. This high margin of error can have a negative effect on someone who has been charged with a DUID.
House Bill 1325 will spark other arguments regarding if a driver is impairment at the five ng/mL level. Timothy Bussey has challenged DUID charges for over 15 years. An lawyer who has experience defending against DUID charges can help you defend and protect your legal rights.
At The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., Colorado Springs DUID attorney Timothy Bussey strives to provide outstanding representation for every defendant he serves, no matter what charges they face. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at (719) 475-2555.