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Colorado lawmakers again reject marijuana DUI bill

Colorado lawmakers yesterday rejected for the third time a marijuana blood-content limit for drivers. Debate has focused how to fairly and accurately gauge when someone has imbibed too much marijuana to be safe behind the wheel.

The state has a 0.08 threshold for alcohol; anyone with that level or above can be arrested for driving under the influence. The questions lawmakers are wrangling over: what is the equivalent threshold for marijuana and how will it be measured?

Colorado drivers can currently be cited for drugged driving, but the arrests and convictions are dependent on police officer observations.

The marijuana bill fell one vote short of passage in the Colorado Senate with a tie vote, 17 to 17.

The state House had passed a bill limiting drivers to five nanograms of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) per milliliter of blood.

Advocates of the measure say there are good reasons to make Colorado the third state in the nation to adopt a THC blood limit: there's a rising number of driving arrested for being drugged behind the wheel and there is growing national evidence that more fatal traffic accidents involve drivers high on marijuana.

However, some lawmakers and activists say the drugged driving statute already addresses the problem of driving under the influence and that they're not sure the new five-nanogram standard would alter behavior.

A Denver state Senator said, "I don't think it'll make our roads any safer."

Regardless of whether the new standard becomes part of the state's legal code, those who face drugged driving charges are wise to discuss their legal options with an attorney experienced in helping clients get favorable outcomes in court and negotiations.

Source: Seattle Times, "Marijuana DUI standard dies a 3rd time in CO," May 15, 2012

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