Legal Inferences for THC DUI Testing Closer to Reality

On April 5th, the Colorado House of Representatives approved a bill to establish a legal inference for marijuana DUI cases.

Denver DUI attorney Jay Tiftickjian spoke with Colorado’s 9News earlier in the week at the state capital about why the legislature is jumping the gun. Tiftickjian explained that studies on THC impairment are severely lacking. The story aired last week and may be found here.

Unlike previous failed attempts at adding to the DUI laws, this bill is different. House Bill 1114 doesn’t setting a limit of five or more nanograms of delta-9-THC present in a milliliter of whole blood, but creates a permissive inference of the same. What this means is that the judge at trial would instruct a jury that it is allowed to infer that a 5ng THC test result is evidence of drug intoxication.

In previous year’s attempts, a new crime was proposed that would have added a second DUI charge, a per se charge, to a case if a driver tested at 5ng or more within two hours of driving. This is similar to Colorado’s current alcohol-related DUI laws, where an adult driver is charged with two DUI counts, one for being substantially incapable of safely operating the vehicle, and the other for having a BAC of at least 0.08 within two hours of driving.

This current bill’s “permissive interference” attempts to address the concern of medicinal or chronic users that may test high without current impairment.

By no means could a stoned driver get away without these optional legal inferences before. DUI-D cases have always and will continue to be charged under C.R.S. 42-4-1301(1)(a). which doesn’t require a blood or urine test.

Still, without credible scientific studies to back it up, what good is a number?

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