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Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID)

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In Colorado, it’s illegal to drive if you’re “under the influence” of drugs (or DUID), which means the drugs have substantially impaired your ability to drive. This applies to all drugs whether they are legal, prescription, or over-the-counter, or if you mix them with alcohol. 

Differences Between DUI and DUID  

A driver suspected of being drunk or impaired should be given the option of taking a blood or breath test. Breath tests don’t work for drug use, so blood tests are used to determine if you’re DUID. You can refuse to take this test, but it’s usually better to agree to take a blood test. If you refuse to take a blood test, there is a mandatory one-year revocation of your driver’s license, and your refusal may be used as evidence of your guilt. 

Unlike alcohol-related offenses, there are no DUID legal limits. Any amount of drugs in your system may result in DUID charges. Although an accurate blood alcohol test may be a good test of how intoxicated an individual is, that’s not true of drug tests. Evidence of drugs in your blood can remain for a day or two after you have “sobered up.” 

Possible Evidence Against You 

Drug impairment produces different symptoms than alcohol impairment. The arresting officer may not be qualified or trained to interpret the signs of drug consumption. If the officer is not a “drug recognition expert” (DRE), we may be able to prevent the officer from testifying against you. A DRE is trained to identify drug-related impairment symptoms and to offer testimony about how these symptoms can impair driving. 

Because there is no established drug limit for DUID for most substances, police will need other evidence of impairment to support your arrest. This can include the officer’s observations of your appearance, behavior, driving, and performance on roadside sobriety tests as well as any incriminating statements you made. (It’s always in your best interest to say as little as possible to the police when you’re suspected of driving under the influence).  

Defenses That May Work in Your DUID Case 

There are many potentially effective defenses to DUID cases, and which one will work best depends on the circumstances of the arrest. They may include: 

  • Improper traffic stop 
  • Lack of probable cause before your arrest 
  • Invalid blood tests 
  • Improper advisements 
  • Use of unqualified medical staff 
  • Failure to read you your rights 

There is much more scientific research regarding how alcohol affects a person compared to drugs. It’s not clear what quantity of drugs causes what level of impairment. Even if it was, each of us has a different tolerance level. A blood test, even if it’s positive, may not establish: 

  • Which specific drug was used 
  • When your alleged drug use occurred  
  • Whether enough was used to impair your driving 

If you take your DUID case to trial, we may use a toxicologist as an expert witness. The prosecution will have one, so these trials often come down to which expert the jury finds more credible. 

Penalties You May Face if Convicted 

A first conviction for DUID carries a potential sentence of: 

  • Five days to twelve months in county jail, which may be suspended on a first offense if certain conditions are met (like finishing drug or alcohol evaluation and treatment) 
  • Revocation of your driver’s license for 9 months
  • A mandatory public service requirement between 48 and 96 hours 
  • Fines can range from $600 to $1,000 
  • Court costs and mandatory drunk driving surcharges 

Most arrests are resolved through plea bargain agreements or are dismissed. The best outcome in your case may be an agreement that you agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge and serve a sentence both sides find acceptable. 

Protect the Most Valuable Thing You Have – Your Freedom 

Attorney Kevin Churchill has handled DUI and DUID cases in Colorado for more than 22 years. If you are arrested for DUID and want to know what to expect and how to achieve the best outcome, contact Churchill Criminal Defense. We are always here to help. Contact us at (303) 832-9000 or use our easy online contact form today to schedule a free consultation.