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How do Police Officers Test for Marijuana DUI’s?

By Timothy Bussey on March 10, 2020

If you have been pulled over at a DUI checkpoint or for a driving violation, you may be at risk of being charged with a marijuana DUI. Recreational use of cannabis products is legal in Colorado – but driving under the influence is another matter entirely.

The Symptoms of Marijuana DUI: What Your Actions can Reveal

A law enforcement officer must use judgment if they are suspicious of THC impairment. If you are exhibiting specific symptoms, you may be asked to undergo a blood test. There is currently no breathalyzer test for THC, but roadside testing devices are in development and will likely appear soon. Until then, the police often rely on a set of symptoms, including:

  • The smell of marijuana in the vehicle (it is illegal to smoke or consume THC products while driving on a public street, road, or highway).
  • Your eyes appear bloodshot, or your pupils are dilated.
  • You are unable to perform field sobriety tests correctly, including looking for “nystagmus,” a condition in which the eyes make repetitive, uncontrolled motions.
  • You exhibit an unusual pattern of speech, such as slow or non-sequitur replies.
  • Your driving conduct reveals poor judgment and slowed reaction time, whether too slow, too fast, weaving in lanes, or other indicators of impairment.
  • Marijuana products or paraphernalia is in your vehicle.
  • The officer may ask for assistance from a DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) who is trained to recognize the types of impairments associated with smoking marijuana consuming edible THC products.

ARIDE Training

Many Colorado police officers have undergone specialized training called “Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE), which involves 72 hours of intensive education. The goal is to provide law enforcement with better tools to identify marijuana intoxication and arrest people who are driving while under the influence of the drug. The training includes observing how a driver operates their vehicle when in motion, how they act during personal contact, and provides training on a set of pre-arrest screening techniques.

Marijuana, in any form, from smokable to edible, is classified as a drug. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) defines a drug for this training as any substance (whether prescribed legally or not), that impairs the ability to operate a vehicle safely. The NHTSA has conducted research that reveals that THC consumption increases the risk of being involved in an accident. Colorado police are definitely on the lookout for marijuana-impaired drivers, and you may have been caught in the net.

If You Are Arrested for Marijuana DUI

If you were arrested for a marijuana DUI, rather than engaging in conversations with police and answering their questions, your first step should be to contact a criminal defense lawyer. At The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., we are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients at every phase of a marijuana DUI arrest. You have the constitutional right to remain silent, and we advise you to exercise this right and contact us. While you may believe that a friendly, helpful approach with law enforcement will be helpful, it could backfire. Your every word and gesture will be evaluated to support the claim that you were high. Never drive a vehicle after consuming marijuana – call a taxi, an Uber, or a friend to drive you home. The risks of an arrest are very real – don’t chance it.

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