Lawyer Q&A: Marijuana Laws

Q: “Since laws have passed in Colorado legalizing recreational marijuana use, is it OK to smoke and drive?”

A: The laws that govern smoking and driving are the same as the laws for drinking and driving. For those over 21, drinking alcohol and smoking pot may be legal, but when their use impairs or puts a driver under the influence it is a crime. There are ways of measuring the THC content of your blood. If there are active THC markers in your blood there is a good chance that your ability could be considered impaired. Right now with even a couple of nanograms you are believed to be impaired and over 5ng and they consider it to be under the influence. The District Attorney has expert witnesses that would testify to that relationship in court.

So just like drinking, one must wait until the marijuana has left your system before you operate a motor vehicle. The time that the effects of marijuana wear off vary between people just as alcohol does. It is best not to take chances and wait until it wears off. The police are trained to spot the effects and will not hesitate to write the ticket. If you do get a ticket, take it seriously. The blood tests can show THC levels for many days but not the active THC levels. Those wear off much more quickly and are what will cause impairment.

What Should I Do If I Get A 2nd DUI?

The courts are very strict about repeat DUI cases. Usually on a first offense the defendant will say that it has been a wake up call and they will never get into this trouble again. The Judge warns them that a second time will be much more harsh. In the classes and probation they get they are also warned. The Judge knows all of this when someone comes to court on a second. There will most certainly be jail time, even if the prior was a long time ago. In fact, if you have a prior, the jail sentence is 10 days to one year and the 10 days may not be suspended, split up or given good time.

If you have had two or more the minimum is 60 days and with that it must be served in a jail cell. The only break on the multiple offender is that it can be done with work release. More than that you can be charged as a habitual offender and eventually it can become a felony. The courts take a DUI seriously and even so much more seriously when it comes to multiple offenses.

In Boulder county there is a program called DITC that puts more into treatment and less on the punishment side. It is important to see if you can qualify for that program. I have had a number of graduates from this plan and it has worked very well for them.

Estate Planning

Probably the most used of all estate planning documents is the Power of Attorney. There are two major types of POA: One being for assets or a general POA, and the other for medical decisions. This is often put into use in end of life care, but is also often needed during temporary conditions when someone is not able to make their own decisions. What you are doing is giving control over decisions that you would normally make in a time when you are not able to make those decisions. For a general Power of Attorney it is often most used to pay bills so you do not get behind while you are incapacitated.

Usually the General Power of Attorney has a clause that delays the power until after you are considered incapacitated. Some of my clients have reached the age that they no longer want to deal with finances and have a child, spouse or friend that they trust and wish to take over that part of their lives. This document gives them the ability to handle all of your financial issues on your behalf.

These documents have no power after you have died but are very important parts of an Estate Planning package. For more information on estate planning please visit my website or call me at (303) 442-6448. I have been practicing law since 1983 and I am here to help.