New breathalyzer can detect the presence of marijuana

Since it became legal for adults to possess small quantities of marijuana in Colorado, the question of what constitutes drugged driving has been at the forefront of many legislators' minds. Earlier this year, the Colorado Senate rejected an attempt to place a limit on the amount of marijuana allowable in a driver's bloodstream.

On a number of occasions, lawmakers in Colorado have tried to place the limit at 5 nanograms - a driver found with higher quantities of marijuana in his or her bloodstream would be determined to be driving under the influence of a drug. Opponents of the proposed bills have contended that setting such a limit would not be effective as marijuana remains in the blood long after the individual is affected by the substance.

Nevertheless, a new breathalyzer test may change the way law enforcement officers handle suspected drugged driving cases in the future. Researchers in Sweden have developed a test that not only identifies the presence of alcohol, but also 12 controlled substances. The test can identify drugs including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

According to the studies conducted by the researchers, the new breathalyzer test detected the presence of these substances with 87 percent accuracy - the same level of accuracy as a urine or blood test.

Fight drugged driving charges in Colorado

Although a specific level has not been placed on the amount of marijuana an individual can have in his or her bloodstream, motorists in Colorado are not allowed to get behind the wheel when under the influence of drugs.

In Colorado, individuals who have no prior offenses can be charged with either driving under the influence or driving while ability impaired. A DWAI charge is a lower standard than a DUI offense, as individuals can face DWAI charges if they are affected even to the slightest degree by the substance they consumed. The penalties for a DWAI charge are slightly lower than a first DUI charge, resulting in shorter jail sentences and smaller fines.

When someone has more than one prior DUI conviction, the penalties increase. For instance, if a motorist has two or more prior convictions, he or she can face jail time between 60 days to one year and a fine between $600 and $1,500. In addition, the motorist may be required to participate in a safety and treatment program and perform community service.

If you are facing charges of drugged driving in Colorado, seeking the advice of a skilled criminal defense attorney is a wise step to ensure a strong defense is established on your behalf.