Colorado's Drugged Driving Law

Learn about the laws and penalties for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Colorado.

Colorado’s drugged driving law is found at Section 42-4-1301(1) of the Colorado Vehicle and Traffic Code. It states

  • It is a misdemeanor for any person who is under the influence of…one or more drugs…to drive any vehicle in this state, and it is a misdemeanor for any person who is impaired by…one or more drugs…to drive any vehicle in this state
  • It is a misdemeanor for any person who is a habitual user of any controlled substance defined in section 12-22-303(7), C.R.S. to drive any vehicle in this state.

Colorado has two standards for drugged driving arrests: impairment and addiction (habitual user). Impairment means that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle. Colorado also prohibits driving by someone who is a habitual user (an addict).

What drugs are prohibited?

Colorado’s drugged driving law is directed at the prohibition of controlled substances -- that is, any drug or chemical regulated by the government. A listing of controlled substances regulated by federal law are found at the Drug Enforcement Administration website. Colorado’s drug definition also includes substances intended to cure or prevent disease, listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia and toxic vapor or vapors including but not limited to glue sniffing and aerosol inhalation.  It’s not an acceptable defense to a drugged driving charge to claim that the driver is legally entitled to use the controlled substance, and that includes marijuana users.

What happens if a driver is convicted of drug impaired driving in Colorado?

A driver arrested for drugged driving in Colorado will be charged with driving under the influence and subject to DUI penalties. A conviction for drugged driving will be considered as a prior offense for purposes of calculating punishment regardless of whether a subsequent offense is due to alcohol or drugs. Read more about Colorado’s DUI laws.

Do Colorado drivers have to submit to drug testing?

Yes, there is an implied consent rule for breath, blood, and urine testing for drugged drivers. The refusal to take the test can be admitted into evidence against the driver.

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