Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

If you have been charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, colloquially known as Driving While High,then you are facing severe consequences that can substantially disrupt your life and future. Zealous protection of your rights is essential to a fair outcome, and you should seek legal advice from a DUI attorney as early as possible.  This page is intended to provide you with a brief overview of the laws which apply to Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in the State of Colorado, and to inform you of your rights and responsibilities should you be arrested on suspicion of driving while high.

In Colorado, the offense of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs is generally classified as a misdemeanor.  However, the violation will be classified as a Class 4 felony if it follows three separate, unrelated convictions for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), DUI per se (that is, driving with a B.A.C. greater than 0.08%), Driving While Alcohol Impaired (that is, driving with a B.A.C. greater than 0.05% but less than 0.08%), Vehicular Homicide, Vehicular Assault, or any combination of the above offenses.  A conviction for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs as a Class 4 felony will carry a stronger punishment than a conviction for the misdemeanor variety of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs.

In addition to imposing criminal penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, Colorado also imposes criminal penalties for the offense of Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs.  Colorado law defines “Under the Influence” as occurring when a person takes one or more drugs that affect the person to a degree that the person is “substantially incapable,” either mentally, physically, or both, of exercising clear judgment, sufficient control, or due care in the safe operation of a motor vehicle. Colorado law defines “While Ability Impaired” as occurring when a person takes one or more drugs that affect the person to the slightest degree so that he or she is less able than he or she would have normally been, either mentally, physically, or both, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.

The offenses of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs include both “drugs” and “controlled substances,” as defined by Colorado statutes.  The term “drugs” includes any substances included in the official United States pharmacopoeia and any substance intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in individuals or animals.  In defining “controlled substances,” Colorado has adopted the Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 2013, which includes in its definition of controlled substances chemical analogues of federally-scheduled controlled substances which have not yet been scheduled by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency.

When you are stopped and arrested on suspicion of driving while high, you will be asked to consent to a blood, urine, or saliva test to determine the concentration of drugs in your body.  A legally sufficient concentration of the drug in question will be defined by Colorado law; a concentration higher than this legally sufficient concentration will give rise to a presumption that you were either impaired or under the influence of drugs while you were driving.  For example, Colorado has defined the legally sufficient concentration of THC in the bloodstream as 5 nanograms/milliliter of blood.

You are not required by law to consent to the blood, urine, or saliva test requested by a law enforcement officer after you have been arrested on suspicion of driving while high. However, if you refuse to consent to the withdrawal of blood, urine, or saliva for testing purposes, the court and the jury may infer that you were under the influence or impaired by drugs based on your refusal to consent to testing.  Refusing to consent to the withdrawal of blood, urine, or saliva for the purposes of drug testing is not protected by the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution’s right against self-incrimination.    A police officer is not allowed to physically restrain you for the purposes of drawing blood, urine, or saliva for testing, unless the officer has probable cause to believe that you have committed a criminally negligent homicide, vehicular homicide, assault in the third degree, or vehicular assault.  Additionally, the blood test must be performed by a physician, registered nurse, paramedic, emergency medical services provider, or a person whose normal duties include withdrawing blood while under the supervision of a physician or a registered nurse.

It is also important to note that there may be administrative consequences resulting from a conviction for driving while high.  The DMV can impose administrative penalties such as license suspension or revocation.  Further, if you are arrested for suspicion of driving while high while you are driving a commercial vehicle, your refusal to consent to the withdrawal of blood, urine, or saliva for testing purposes will result in the revocation of your privilege to drive a commercial vehicle for a period of one year.

It is of paramount importance that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities when you are arrested on suspicion of driving while high.  CGH is here to help. From your first consultation, we are committed to helping you and devoted to effectively advancing your position. CGH lawyers prepare for trial from Day 1. We focus immediately on gathering facts and evidence. We spend time to make sure that we can understand and develop your theory. Most importantly, we work relentlessly to prove your theory and ensure victory at trial. Sometimes, relentless and thorough trial preparation can result in a dismissal when it becomes apparent that the charges against are unwarranted or the evidence against you is too weak. Other times, relentless and thorough trial preparation will result in a favorable plea bargain and a sentence that puts you right back on track, and you may elect to choose that instead. But at all times, relentless and trial preparation is the only way to fully protect your rights and give you the best chance at your best outcome. Often, there’s no way to predict that these things will happen in your life, but when they do, you can trust CGH DUI attorneys to help navigate the complexities of being accused of driving while high. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.