How a Rocky Mountain High Can Land You a DUI

photo credit – snowstice/Flickr

Pot shops in Colorado just opened their doors to sell the first legal recreational use marijuana in the United States. Anyone over 21 years old can now buy pot at any legal pot shop in Colorado. If you are a Colorado resident, you can buy up to 1 ounce. With Utah being right next door many will be looking to take a Colorado vacation and enjoy a Rocky Mountain High during their visit. Out of state residents visiting Colorado can buy up to a quarter once of marijuana. So yes, it is now legal for Utah residents to travel to Colorado and buy weed. However, any Utahns looking to journey over the eastern border to buy and consume marijuana should be aware of a few legal traps. The first is pretty obvious but we have had some questions come in about this so we will throw it out here. If you purchase marijuana in Colorado you cannot bring it back to Utah and not be in illegal possession. Just because you purchased marijuana legally in Colorado doesn’t mean you won’t be charged with possession or a related charge if you are caught with it here in Utah. The other, not so obvious legal trap everyone should know who is planning on smoking pot in Colorado and returning to Utah, is the potential for a DUI metabolite charge.

Marijuana Related DUI Charge in Utah

You may not believe this but here it is…Under Utah Law, if you smoke pot in Colorado and are later pulled over in Utah, you could be charged with a DUI if any measurable amount of weed is tested in your body. Sounds crazy but its true. Even if you are not driving impaired and it has been days or even weeks even since you smoked marijuana in Colorado, you run the risk of getting a DUI. Let’s say for instance that you are pulled over for some minor traffic offense such as speeding. The officer who pulls you over comes to your window and after speaking with you for a second starts questioning you about drug use or alcohol. Maybe the officer claims to smell marijuana from your vehicle, maybe the officer says your eyes are red or you appear to be intoxicated in some way. Even if the officer doesn’t find any weed in your car, you may still end up facing a marijuana related DUI charge in Utah if you later submit to a blood or urine test which tests positive for THC. This is referred to in the law as a DUI metabolite. A DUI metabolite charge is just as bad as being charged with an alcohol related DUI, the penalties are significant if you are convicted.

Defenses Against a DUI Metabolite Charges

If you are charged with a DUI metabolite in Utah under similar facts described above, we will fight aggressively in your defense. Under Utah law there are 3 major defenses for DUI metabolite charges. First, if you involuntarily ingested marijuana (either you were forced or didn’t know you consumed it). This defense is often difficult to prove and is not as common as the others. Second, the substance was prescribed. This often applies to medical marijuana users, however, this is a tough sell to a prosecutor and jury since Utah currently doesn’t permit prescription marijuana. Finally, if it was legally ingested you have a defense. Most people would assume since they legally ingested in Colorado, they could get off the hook. The flip side of that argument is first proving you only consumed marijuana in Colorado and second overcoming the fact that consumption of marijuana is still illegal under federal law. As Utah Marijuana Defense Attorneys we aggressively bring these types of defenses. For more information or to speak with a member of our team regarding the specific details of your case, call us anytime at 801-413-1753.

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