Even though recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, it is still recognized as a drug that could lead to impairment. As a result, it's possible to end up facing a DUI charge for using marijuana and getting behind the wheel of your vehicle, even though you may have legally used the drug.
In a case like yours, think of marijuana much like alcohol. You're able to use it, but if you have too much, then your ability to drive could be impacted. To prevent you or others from using drugs and then driving, the law has to restrict your right to drive while impaired.
How can you tell if a person's impaired by marijuana?
Officers who work in Colorado receive training to recognize drug use and impairment. Officers in Colorado receive advanced training through Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, or ARIDE, which helps them determine your level of impairment.
Officers also provide a THC test that you need to take upon request. You are allowed to have no more than five nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol in your blood when you're behind the wheel of a vehicle. Remember, even if your THC level falls below this level, an officer may arrest you if you have an impaired appearance.
It's important for anyone who uses marijuana to know that there is a risk of arrest if you drive while impaired. Even if you use marijuana for medicinal purposes, it still has the potential to cause impairment, which could lead to a crash. For this reason, the limits above apply to all people, regardless of the reasons they use marijuana.
Since marijuana is legal, is paraphernalia?
In some respects, yes. You need to show that the paraphernalia was not in use prior to your stop. For example, if you have a bong in your vehicle with no sign of use, that is typically acceptable, whereas a bong with signs of recent use could be a sign that you're using before driving. By law, you're unable to possess open containers, containers with broken seals or any objects showing signs of use with marijuana in your vehicle.
As you know, having THC in your blood or an open container in your vehicle doesn't automatically make you impaired, but it does look bad. Whenever you face charges for a crime like this, it's in your best interests to be cooperative but to protect yourself with a strong defense.