Driving under the influence of any drugs is illegal and just as deadly and dangerous as driving drunk. If you drive impaired by drugs – even if they’re legal drugs like prescriptions and marijuana – you can be arrested for DUI. Through The Heat Is On campaign, CDOT pairs impaired driving and DUI prevention education with heightened enforcement.
In response to the recent legalization of recreational marijuana, CDOT launched a new education campaign on marijuana impaired driving. Click here for campaign materials.
Drugged Driving Statistics in Colorado
In 2012, the Colorado Department of Human Services collected 23,519 drug and alcohol evaluations. Of the total evaluations, 1,045, or nearly 5 percent, involved marijuana. Also in 2012, there were 87 fatalities involving a drugged driver, and 35 of the 286 drivers tested for drugs had cannabis only in their system. Click here for more drugged driving statistics.
Law Enforcement Can Spot the Signs
Colorado law enforcement officers are trained in the detection of impairment of alcohol and drugs, and many are specially trained Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). These officers have the ability to detect physical signs of drug impairment. DREs are viewed as one of the most effective law enforcement tools in efforts to reduce drugged driving.
DREs also use chemical tests for drugs. Colorado’s Express Consent Law requires any driver to consent to a chemical test if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person is driving under the influence or their ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired because of alcohol, drugs or both. Any driver who refuses to take a chemical test will immediately lose their driver’s license and will be classified as a persistent drunk driver. Consequences of refusal include revocation of a drivers’ license for one year, mandatory ignition interlock for two years and alcohol education and therapy classes as specified by law.
Legalization of Marijuana and Impaired Driving
Marijuana affects reaction time, short-term memory, hand-eye coordination, concentration and perception of time and distance. Getting high and getting behind the wheel of a car will get you arrested for a DUI – this law hasn’t changed with the legalization of marijuana in January 2014.
Similar to alcohol, there is an established impairment level in Colorado of five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the active psychoactive component of marijuana—per milliliter of whole blood.
CDOT has been working alongside the marijuana industry and other state and local agencies for the past six months to develop policies and education efforts to inform marijuana users about the dangers of driving while impaired. Click here for frequently asked questions regarding the new law and driving.
Use the quick links at the left to get more information on the drugged driving campaign in Colorado.
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Glenn Davis, Highway Safety Manager
Leslie Chase – High-Visibility Enforcement
Robin Rocke - SFST, ARIDE and DRE Training
Sergeant John Ehmsen - Law Enforcement Coordinator
Emily Wilfong – Media and Public Relations