Ever taken a field sobriety test?
Stoned driving has been a recurrent topic in Colorado’s recreational marijuana era, from the continued debate about the state’s legal threshold for impairment (5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood) to the heavily questioned current research regarding highway fatalities, to the Congressional hearing in July that bemoaned the lack of roadside testing options for law enforcement.
ABC News correspondent Clayton Sandell shadowed a Colorado State Patrol officer and documented what happened when one sandals-wearing, Mustang-driving motorist was put through the paces in a roadside stoned driving test by CSP Cpl. Roger Meyers, a specially trained drug recognition expert.
Meyers tells Sandell that “my marijuana evaluations have gone up.”
So, what happens after a driver is arrested on suspicion of drugged driving? According to a previous Cannabist Q&A column: The driver would be transported to a licensed phlebotomist, either at a jail, detox facility or hospital to draw a blood sample. After the blood draw, the arrestee either goes to detox, jail, a medical facility or is released to a sober party.
If a driver refuses to submit to a blood test, there are consequences. CDOT sums it up thusly:
Colorado revokes driving privileges for any individual who fails to cooperate with the chemical testing process requested by an officer during the investigation of an alcohol or drug-related DUI arrest. Any driver who refuses to take a blood test will immediately be considered a high-risk driver. Consequences include: mandatory ignition interlock for two years, and level two alcohol education and therapy classes as specified by law. These penalties are administrative, and are applied regardless of a criminal conviction.
Colorado started out the year with increased law enforcement training in the Drug Recognition Expert program. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, there are 193 active DRE officers who have completed training to identify drivers who are under the influence of drugs other than alcohol, or in addition to alcohol. CSP has the most DREs among state law enforcement agencies, with 51.
The effort for extra training was partially funded through a $400,000 grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.