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Tackling Drugged Driving: Insights from the IACP Impaired Driving Conference

Our fair city recently hosted the 22nd annual International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Impaired Driving Conference, a groundbreaking event organized by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). With attendees pouring in from all 50 states and international participants from countries like China and Northern Ireland, this year’s conference marked the largest gathering in its history. At the forefront of the discussions was the CDOT’s initiative to shed light on the alarming issue of drugged driving in Colorado following the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012 through their impactful “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign.

Colorado State Patrol estimates reveal a concerning statistic – approximately one-fifth of DUIs in the state are marijuana-related. Moreover, CDOT’s highway safety manager, Glenn Davis, anticipates a surge in this number in the future. This projection is attributed to the specialized training law enforcement officers receive to identify drivers under the influence of marijuana.

Unraveling the Mystery: Identifying High Drivers

Distinguishing marijuana impairment from alcohol intoxication presents a unique challenge for law enforcement. Unlike alcohol, there is currently no breath test capable of detecting marijuana at a DUI stop. While efforts are underway to develop such technology, the primary method to confirm marijuana impairment is through a blood test. However, obtaining a blood sample involves navigating a series of legal procedures.

So, how do police identify potentially impaired drivers to initiate a stop? Contrary to popular belief among some marijuana users, who may feel they drive better or unaffected while high, the drug can lead to erratic driving behaviors. Law enforcement officers are trained to look for signs such as:

  1. Speeding up inappropriately
  2. Slowing down inappropriately
  3. Disregarding stop signs or excessive stopping
  4. Weaving between lanes
  5. Inability to maintain proper lane discipline
  6. Once an officer establishes probable cause for a traffic stop, they approach the vehicle to search for additional indicators of impairment. This includes assessing for the smell of marijuana, observing red or glassy eyes, and noting any slurred responses from the driver.

Navigating the Legal Terrain

For individuals apprehended due to drugged driving, seeking legal counsel becomes paramount. Engaging with an attorney offers a real chance at having charges reduced or dismissed. The complexities surrounding marijuana impairment, including variations in tolerance levels among users, make it crucial for individuals to discuss their cases with legal professionals who specialize in DUI defense.


In conclusion, the IACP Impaired Driving Conference in our city served as a crucial platform for addressing the growing concern of drugged driving. The CDOT’s “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign, coupled with insights into law enforcement practices and challenges, underscored the importance of ongoing efforts to tackle this issue head-on. As marijuana legalization continues to evolve across the country, the need for effective strategies and heightened awareness remains imperative to ensure the safety of our roads and communities.

Do you have further questions or concerns? Call us or contact the attorneys at Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, and we will be happy to help.

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