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When we hear about people driving while intoxicated or driving while under the influence, we most often think of people driving after drinking alcohol. However, "DUI" offenses apply to more than just driving while drunk. You can be cited for driving under the influence while operating a vehicle after smoking marijuana. The Colorado state legislature legalized marijuana in 2012 and legalized the recreational sale of marijuana shortly after that. Just because marijuana is legal in Colorado does not make it safe to drive while under its influence.
The consequences that result from driving while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol can be devastating. The attorneys at Zinda Law Group believe victims should never have to suffer through the legal process on their own. Having an experienced team of attorneys on your side can ease the burden of filing a claim, and can help you seek the compensation you may be entitled to.
At Zinda Law Group, we may be able to help. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident caused by a high driver, call Zinda Law Group at (512) 246 2224 for a 100% free case evaluation with our Colorado DUI attorneys today.
Is It Legal to Drive in Colorado after Smoking Marijuana?
Yes and no. It is not outright illegal to drive after smoking marijuana in Colorado. However, similar to how some states treat alcohol, there is a legal limit in which you can drive after partaking. The legal limit of marijuana that you are allowed to drive within your system is 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood.
The issue of driving while under the influence of marijuana in Colorado has been difficult to enforce from the standpoint of a chemical or blood test. THC often stays in a persons system for quite awhile after consumption. This can make it difficult to determine if someone is driving after having just smoked, or if they are driving with lingering THC in their system. Therefore, for the time being, police use a standard roadside impairment test in order to determine if someone is driving while under the influence of marijuana.
Marijuana Laws in Colorado
According to the Colorado state legislature's website, if you are 21 years or older, you may now legally possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana in Colorado. Moreover, as mentioned above, marijuana was legalized for recreational sale by the Colorado state legislature in 2014. This law has had a substantial effect on increasing the number of people driving on the roads with THC in their system. While blood-testing for marijuana on the roads is not the standard, a request to submit to a blood test by a police officer and a subsequent refusal by the driver will result in an automatic DUI under Colorado law.
It is important to note that having a medical prescription for marijuana won't protect you from getting a DUI either. It is still illegal to drive while over the legal limit for marijuana consumption even if it is medically prescribed to you.
Your first DUI offense in Colorado may result in a mere five days to a lofty one year behind bars. Additionally, fines may be anywhere between $600-$1,000.
Effects of Marijuana on Driving
Driving while high can be particularly dangerous for several reasons. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that marijuana significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time. Moreover, the institute says that an analysis of multiple studies shows that those involved in car crashes with THC in their blood are 3-7 times more likely to be responsible for the accident.
Another reason that marijuana use while operating a vehicle can be so dangerous is because drivers who are high while behind the wheel often times have consumed alcohol as well. The Colorado Department of Transportation reports that approximately 36% of drivers involved in fatal car collisions in 2016 who tested positive for marijuana also tested positive for alcohol.
What to do if hit by a High Driver?
There are several things you can do after being hit by a high driver to ensure your safety and ensure that you are putting yourself in the best position possible to seek legal recovery. The steps you should consider taking are as follows:
1. Seek medical attention
Safety always comes first. If you or any passengers in your vehicle have been severely injured, seek medical care immediately.
2. Call the police
If you are able enough at the moment and can delay seeking medical attention, call the police to the scene. If you need immediate medical attention, call them after you have seen a medical professional. Getting the police involved is a crucial step to take because the police will create an official incident report that can serve as key evidence later on.
3.Document the scene
If you can, it is important you take pictures of the scene, of your vehicle, of the other driver's vehicle, and of your injuries. Evidence can fade very quickly. Collecting photo documentation of everything as soon as you can is one of the most helpful things you can do for your claim.
4.Contact an attorney
The legal process can be complicated, and dealing with insurance companies can be even worse. The best way to make sure you are being treated fairly by the responsible party and the insurance company is to hire an attorney. An attorney who has experience filing claims against high drivers will not allow you to be taken advantage of.
When trying to prove someone is at fault for causing a car wreck while driving under the influence of marijuana, you will need to be able to show that they were negligent. You can prove a responsible party's negligence by establishing they owed you a duty to use reasonable care, they breached that duty in some way, and that their breach has caused you injury.
Every motorist owes a duty to operate his or her vehicle safely. In the case of a high driver, you can establish that they breached this duty by operating their vehicle while under the influence of drugs.
While the blame may fall solely on the driver who was operating their car while high, there are some circumstances where you and the other driver can share the blame. Colorado follows a rule known as the Modified Comparative Fault Rule. The court will determine your percentage of culpability in the accident and then reduce the total amount of recoverable damages by that same percentage. However, in the event that you are found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, then you may be barred from seeking any compensation at all.
How to Make a Claim for Compensation
After you take the necessary steps to ensure your safety after being hit by a high driver, here is how to file a claim for legal compensation:
1. Call an attorney
After a car collision with a high driver, you will need to deal closely with the respective insurance companies involved. Insurance providers can easily take advantage of vulnerable victims. Having an experienced attorney on your side is the best way to make sure you don't get taken advantage of and are able to seek maximum compensation.
Initiating a prompt and thorough investigation into the collision is crucial. Acting quickly after an accident is important in order to gather any physical evidence, photographs, and witness statements.
3. Case Settlement
Often times, the responsible party's insurance provider will offer the victim of an accident a monetary settlement if the victim agrees to stop pursuing legal action. However, these settlement offers can often be minimal and inadequate. If you refuse a settlement offer from an insurance company, you have the option to pursue further legal action to seek the most compensation possible.
If a car operated by a driver who was high has hit you, you may be able to seek recovery for both economic and non-economic damages for your claim. Economic damages compensate you for your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and other financially based injuries. Non-economic damages compensate you for pain and suffering.
Some states also allow for the possibility of punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the liable party for conduct that is particularly dreadful in the hopes that it will deter others from acting similarly. However, in Colorado, a plaintiff cannot seek punitive damages initially. A plaintiff must wait until the court finds clear and convincing evidence that punitive damages are appropriate. If they are appropriate, Colorado law states that the amount of punitive damages cannot exceed the amount of actual damages described above.
Legal Time Limits
Your right to seek legal compensation for your injuries may be affected by how long you wait to bring your claim. The time limit on your claim is known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations sets a legal time limit in which an injured party is allowed to file a lawsuit. Every state has a different statute of limitations for different types of claims. Personal injury claims in Colorado place a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims.
If a high driver has hit you and you sustained injuries as a result of the accident, make sure you file a claim within the two-year time period.
OUR COLORADO CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS CAN HELP
Unfortunately, accidents occur every day due to impaired drivers' negligence. Thankfully, Zinda Law Group is here to help. Our experienced attorneys can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf and ensure the proper steps are taken to seek the best possible outcome for your case.
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