Law enforcement adding drug recognition experts to catch high drivers

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DENVER -- Though recreational marijuana is now available to the public, the Colorado State Patrol is reminding people that it remains illegal to drive impaired by marijuana.

"If you're driving and you're impaired by marijuana or by anything else, you will be stopped, you will be cited, you will be arrested," said CSP Sergeant Mike Baker.

Whether it's marijuana, alcohol or illegal drugs, officers test for impairment in the same way. They’ll assess driving behavior and conduct field sobriety tests. Since there is no roadside breath test for marijuana, if a trooper detects impairment in the field, the next step is a blood test.

"If they comply with that blood test, our troopers will transport them, usually to an area medical facility,” Sgt. Baker said. “Our troopers do not take blood from people."

Since the passage of Amendment 64, Colorado law enforcement agencies have been adding more Drug Recognition Experts, who receive special training. State Patrol has also expanded drug detection classes for all troopers.

Sergeant Baker says the increased education is precautionary.

"Colorado has a lot of great people and they abide by our traffic laws, but in case we do see an increase (in Marijuana impairment), we're training our troopers accordingly," Baker said.

Marijuana advocates say the legalization of recreational marijuana sales shouldn’t lead to fears about more marijuana impaired driving.

"There's no evidence suggesting more people are going to be driving while impaired,” said Mason Tvert.  “We really need to  take a reasonable approach here."

Tvert says the legalization of marijuana now allows law enforcement to focus more on impaired driving of all kinds. Last year Colorado did pass a legal limit for marijuana in the blood stream. Drivers are assumed to be impaired if they have five nanograms of THC per milliliter. However, the limit does not lead to an automatic conviction. It is simply used to help guide a jury during a trial.

"Nobody in Colorado wants people who are impaired by any substance to drive,” Tvert said. “But we also really need to make sure that we're not criminalizing and punishing people who aren't impaired when they're driving."

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13 comments

  • The TRUTH

    This article was a waste of reading time, even though it had to be reported. It’s obvious the police will search you and your vehicle for no cause, only to find your stash. #1 Move: is to keep it OUT of your car, otherwise they have no proof to leach blood from you. D a m n you vampires, always causing trouble!! It’s 420 EVERYBOBY. whoot-whooot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I smell a witch hunt. They had better be extremely careful not to bust any innocents. I encourage anyone who is suspected of driving while high to fight it. Never admit to being a smoker to the thine blue line gang. Don’t take their roadside.This is designed to allow them to compile subjective evidence against you. They’ll make observations and formulate an opinion as to your level of impairment. This will be used against you in court.Take the blood test. Most likely, it’ll thrown out in court due to the lack of factual evidence as to what constitutes impairment. The state’s inept lawmakers foolishly rushed this through with a level so low that many unimpaired drivers will be prosecuted. My hope is that we stand up to these sadistic tyrants, sue the frack out of them and, hopefully, teach these bone-heads a valuable lesson.

  • Jason

    Maybe Mason and MPP should have used some of their lobbying capital to help me fight the unjust DUID laws. Then this would not be a concern. Most patients are constantly above this limit with no impairment. This law will catch many innocent people. I can not wait until it is challenged and overturned in court. I invite the police to stop me. I volunteer to be that test case!

  • Test

    The roadside “sobriety” tests only work if they know your response when not impaired.

    Not everyone has equal dexterity sober. Fluid in your inner ear can impact balance, but it won’t impact reaction time. Some folks have a speech impediment, but it doesn’t impact their driving skills.

    Most traffic deaths are caused by sober drivers.

  • Lifeloc Technologies (@_LifeGuard)

    According to the CDC, in 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. The .08 BAC limit is a level at which everyone displays symptoms of intoxication that interfere with their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

    The 5 nanogram level for THC cannot be established at roadside, but only after a blood test. Don’t force the issue with Law enforcement by driving with more than an ounce of THC in the car and don’t drive impaired regardless of what substance you’re taking.

  • Test

    “According to the CDC, in 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.”

    Alcohol related crashes include those in which the impaired driver was not at fault. Even so, over 2/3 of fatalities were not alcohol related, which still supports the fact that sober drivers are killing way too many people.

  • jimmy

    Sad comments my friend died by a guy who was stoned. .. he was so vlazed he swears he didnt realize the had changed and got tboned … so explain this to her kids

  • Manupandpush

    Since THC is fat soluable and stays in your system for at least 2 weeks depending on your body how are they going to prove that the driver was high when they were driving and not the day before when I wasn’t driving?

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