An incident that occurred Saturday night when a suspected stoned driver ran into two State Patrol vehicles illustrates why Colorado is focusing on keeping those who overindulge in marijuana from driving. While no one was hurt in the accident on Saturday, the prospect of an increase in accidents due to the legalization of marijuana is a real concern. A $400,000 grant has been received from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and will be used for a campaign to prevent drivers from getting behind the wheel while high, as well as education for officers to spot probable offenders. The campaign will begin in March, and will include posters of the danger of driving while impaired which will be posted in recreational marijuana shops. Some shop owners will participate in focus groups to help keep marijuana users from getting behind the wheel. Public Safety officials are concerned that the number of impaired drivers will increase now that pot is legal. Let’s all hope the campaign works!
Glenn Davis, CDOT highway safety manager stated “We may see more customers who used marijuana in the past, or those who have never used it, get behind the wheel.” Mr. Davis would like to see an additional 300 officers trained to deal with the possible increase of impaired drivers. Currently, in Colorado, there are approximately 180 specially trained drug recognition experts. It is hoped that training for an additional 35 officers will be provided with the new federal funding.
Marijuana slows reaction time and affects judgment, although one of the problems with high drivers appears to be their confidence in their ability to drive. Many people believe they can drive as well while high as when they are sober, but statistics indicate that marijuana was a factor in over 1,000 Colorado cases in 2012. The NHTSA estimates that drugs other than alcohol are involved in approximately 18 percent of motor vehicle deaths.
Under the current Colorado DUI law, a motorist is considered under the influence of marijuana if the blood level is above 5 nanograms of THC. The difficulty in knowing how much pot is too much is an issue to be considered. The potency of different marijuana varieties, or smoking versus edibles, increased tolerance among habitual users causes differing levels of intoxication.
Criminal penalties are severe. First offense (DUI, DUI per se, or habitual user) includes fines, mandatory imprisonment in county jail for a minimum of five days (not to exceed more than one year), and useful public service (a minimum of 48 hours and not to exceed 96 hours). Second and third offenses subject the offending party to more serve penalties.And employers may be able to fire people they suspect are hurt at work as a consequence of being under the influence of marijuana.
Parents are cautioned not to allow underage members of the household to use alcohol or other drugs, legal or illegal as parents can be held liable and have their insurance and assets put at risk due to the Family Law Doctrine. The Family Law Doctrine provides that the owner of a car who is the head of the household is legally responsible to the same extent a driver who is a member of the household would be for any injury or damages caused by any negligence of a driver-member of the household using the vehicle with the express or implied permission of the owner.
If you are the victim of a car crash involving someone suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, contact Colorado personal injury attorney Robert Paysinger today. Robert can answer all of your questions and let you know what kind of compensation you may be entitled to under Colorado law. Our law firm offers FREE case consultations and can be reached at 303. 279.0221.
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