Denver DUID Accident Attorney
"Drivers Under The Influence Of Marijuana Are Causing Many Serious Accidents"
In 2012, Colorado was the first state the in U.S. to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. Unfortunately, this has made driving under the influence of marijuana ("drugged driving" or DUID) more prevalent all over our state, resulting in more accidents, more injuries, and more fatalities. If you or a loved one have been injured by a driver under the influence of marijuana, you may have legal options to pursue compensation.
Attorney Dan Caplis has been a leader in Colorado in exposing the explosion of injuries and deaths caused by Marijuana related driving, and Dan has successfully represented the victims of many serious accidents caused by drivers under the influence of marijuana.
Current DUID Law: How Does Colorado Test for Driving While High?
When it comes to driving, cannabis is a regulated substance just like alcohol is. Colorado DUI Code 42-4-1301 is our "driving under the influence" statute and provides criminal penalties for convicted drivers. Colorado law enforcement has two main methods to test a driver they suspect is high: a blood test and a drug-specific sobriety test.
Under current Colorado law, a person can be prosecuted for driving under the influence if their blood contains 5 or more nanograms of active THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis). If a driver refuses to take this blood test, they are considered a high-risk driver and are subject to a variety of legal penalties—even if they aren’t convicted.
Sobriety tests designed to detect marijuana-use include the one-leg-stand and evaluation of allergies or irritation, such as redness in the eyes. Some drug users believe Colorado has no effective method of detecting impairment, but many law enforcement officials and Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) are fully trained and certified in programs such as Advanced Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE).
Misconceptions about Driving High in Colorado
Marijuana is often lauded as "safer" than alcohol and that conception is wrongly extended to when recreational and medical marijuana users get behind the wheel. In fact, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), a shocking 55% of CO marijuana users said that they believed it was safe to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of cannabis in 2016.
In reality, the effect that marijuana can have on drivers is well-documented not just by research from here in the U.S., but from all over the world, as well. For a review of these findings, see the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Marijuana is now known to have many negative effects on drivers including:
- Delayed reaction times
- Decreased motor functions
- Impaired judgment
You don't have to look far to realize that marijuana has had a dramatic effect on our roadways here in Colorado. CDOT reports that in 2016, more than 17% percent of impaired driver accidents involved marijuana. According to a report from The Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, in the three years since recreational marijuana has been legalized in our state, marijuana-related deaths on the road have increased by 48%—and the frequency in which marijuana was involved in fatal accidents has doubled from 2010 to 2016.
The Denver Post recently published a major study, which included a review of coroner's reports, which showed that:
- The number of drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado who tested positive for marijuana has increased 145 percent since 2013.
- Increasingly potent levels of marijuana were found in drivers who tested positive after fatal crashes.
Cutting through the Controversy
One of the challenges of legally parsing traffic accidents that involve marijuana is the surrounding controversy over the standards used to enforce sober driving. Colorado has maintained the "five nanograms of THC" standard when evaluating these cases, but scientists and advocates continue to argue that marijuana cannot be measured in the same way that alcohol when it comes to impaired driving.
This is because THC is processed differently than alcohol by the human body. Relatively speaking, alcohol is processed quickly, while THC is fat soluble and remains in the body longer. For a detailed look at the latest science and what makes DUID so difficult to detect and enforce, see this 2016 report from NPR.
Our Commitment to Justice
Regardless of whether or not the criminal charges against a marijuana-influenced driver are successful, victims may have a valid civil claim against them. For more than three decades, our award-winning Denver DUID accident attorney, Dan Caplis, has been pursuing and securing financial relief for victims of drunk and impaired driving. Our firm knows what it takes to substantiate liability in these cases—including marijuana-related cases, where the understanding of its effects on drivers continues to come into focus.
We will work with local, national, and even international experts on this topic in order to illustrate a driver's liability in these cases and draw a definitive line of causation between the driver's actions and our clients' injuries. Attorney Dan Caplis is not only nationally-trusted legal authority on catastrophic injury suits but also recovered the largest personal injury verdict in the state of Colorado in 2015.
The time to take action is now—and Dan Caplis Law is ready to assist you. Contact us today to request a free consultation.