Legal Issues

Drive High? DUI

Colorado’s Department of Transportation (CDOT) has made educating its citizens on the dangers of “driving high” a priority. Both Washington and Colorado (the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana), have laws on their books regarding driving while under the influence of marijuana and both set stringent limits of intoxication that will net drivers violations for Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

Colorado’s Department of Transportation (CDOT) has made educating its citizens on the dangers of “driving high” a priority. Both Washington and Colorado (the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana), have laws on their books regarding driving while under the influence of marijuana and both set stringent limits of intoxication that will net drivers violations for Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

The La Junta Tribune crunched the numbers and, in 2012, there were 630 drivers involved in 472 motor vehicle fatalities on Colorado roadways. Of the 630 drivers involved, 286 were tested for drugs. Nearly 27 percent of drivers tested had a positive drug test, with 12 percent testing positive for cannabis.

The CDOT’s “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign will include a series of television commercials to air during shows targeting males between the ages of 21 and 34, who allegedly tend to have the highest number of DUIs. There will also be widespread outreach to rental car companies and to dispensaries to get them to inform tourists and marijuana users about Colorado’s marijuana driving laws in Colorado.

Amy Ford, CDOT Communications Director, talked about the Colorado’s extensive research on driving high:

Before beginning the campaign, we did extensive research about medical and recreational marijuana users’ perceptions of marijuana’s effects on driving . . . We heard repeatedly that people thought marijuana didn’t impact their driving ability, and some believed it actually made them a better driver. The Drive High, Get a DUI campaign takes a neutral stance on legalization, and will focus awareness efforts on impaired driving laws in Colorado.

Washington State has not yet undertaken any official outreach regarding “green DUIs” but we expect it too will do so before recreational marijuana sales start in earnest.