By on December 16, 2015

04 - 2001 Suzuki Swift in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The joke that spotting a high driver is as easy as looking for the car safely going 7 mph on the interstate isn’t entirely accurate, according to Denver police.

“You’d be wrong. We’ll see the same levels of intoxication between someone who’s been using alcohol and someone who is on drugs,” Denver police Captain Mark Chuck said Wednesday. “There’s virtually no difference.”

Spotting those signs of impairment could become very important as federal regulators devote resources to developing nationwide standards and training tools for law enforcement. The recently signed federal highway funding bill, dubbed Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, directs the Transportation Department to study how to spot marijuana-impaired drivers as more states legalize the drug.

Denver police Officer Jim Gates said standardizing the signs for impaired driving — regardless of drug — may not be as complicated as determining a benchmark for THC potency in marijuana and at what level of THC in the bloodstream would constitute impairment.

“The biggest problem with marijuana … is there’s not a federal regulatory commission that regulates the THC levels,” Gates said. “It’s just like getting it off the street — you can buy one type of marijuana from one place and go buy it from another place the next day and not know if the THC levels are the same. When you take the same amount that you used yesterday, today, it may hit you harder — or it may not hit you at all, depending on what the THC levels are. And each company posts their own THC levels, but there’s no standard.”

In other words, without regulation, recreational marijuana would be analogous to Budweiser and Coors having wildly different levels of alcohol in their beers, without a standard of measurement between the two.

According to Gates, who is a trained drug recognition expert for the Denver police department, officers in Denver have seen an increase in the number of drugged drivers, but there hasn’t been a huge spike in arrests since 2013, when Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration already provides the training materials that Denver police use to identify drugged drivers, but the department shares what it’s learning about marijuana-impaired drivers to other groups across the country.

Among what officers have learned about marijuana-impaired drivers: no two drugged drivers are the same.

According to Chuck, whether or not a roadside “breathalyzer” for marijuana could be developed soon, many officers use other methods to determine impairment.

“Any tool would help officers, but in the totality of the circumstances in an arrest … there are more things going on,” he said.

Many times high drivers share similarities with drunk drivers: stumbling during the “walk and turn” and abnormal vitals, such as pulse or blood pressure.

The federal bill also directs the Transportation department to determine whether a standard of impairment could be developed for marijuana. In Colorado, legislators set the level at 5 nanograms of THC present in someone’s bloodstream — although that level passed with controversy.

Denver police said whatever level the feds may adopt, the same challenges as a standardized blood-alcohol content level exist for police: namely, different people react differently to marijuana and alcohol, regardless of amount.

“Your body will build up the same tolerances to marijuana as it will for alcohol. So you may not think you’re impaired when you actually are … we can see when you are. We have the same clues for both,” Chuck said.

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64 Comments on “Denver Police Know How To Catch Stoned Drivers, Feds Want To Learn More...”

  • avatar

    It’s an interesting law enforcement problem. “Per se” intoxication laws (Blood level >= X = intoxicated) have the advantage of removing the subjectivity inherent in sobriety tests.

    A surprising number of stone-cold-sober people are not able to “pass” many of the common roadside sobriety checks, and convicting solely on that basis opens up a whole can of worms at the trial level. (It’s been argued that roadside sobriety tests are even flaky as probable cause for a blood sample, much less conviction-worthy evidence.)

    Yes, different people react differently to alcohol and drugs… but how do you decide, using an objective test, if somebody is impaired if you don’t use blood levels?

    To paraphrase the saying: “Blood tests are the worst way of determining intoxication, except for all others that have been tried.”

    • 0 avatar

      what would that surprising number be?

    • 0 avatar

      @sirwired – marijuana blood testing only provides you with a serum level.

      Research needs to be done to clearly link various levels of THC and/or CBD and/or other active chemicals in marijuana to intoxication.

      Alcohol has been studied enough to know what blood levels correlate to an impaired ability to drive.

      Testing for impairment from marijuana is much more complex because THC isn’t the only active chemical in it. “The cannabis plant contains more than 421 chemicals of which 61 are cannabinoids.” Anyone saying that they have a test for impairment based on THC is full of crap. CBD (Cannabidiol) is another active ingredient that can “impair” a patient.

      Not enough is known about how the body reacts and interacts with the chemicals in marijuana. That will change since it is being researched for medical use. Legalization for recreational use will stimulate more research on its effects.

    • 0 avatar

      A breath tester does not determine if you are drunk. It just makes the conviction a slam dunk for the State.

      You drove a car plus you blew more than .15, er, .10, er.08, and if MADD could get it, .05.

      Back in the day, they had to prove intoxication. Now, they don’t. Trust an attorney with many DWI cases in the drawer…nothing annoys the State more than a case with no breath test. They don’t want to try the case, and take a “no blow-no deal” approach in my area…the DMV will suspend you equally to the DWI administratively for a “no blow” case, so even if you win you lose.

      When it was .15, yes. .1, maybe. .08, not so much….05, prohibition. Different folks have different lungs. The 2100:1 blood breath ratio isn’t accurate population wide…but states, faced with losing A+B=Guilty, have upheld breath tests….

      I’ve seen a lot of morons who went the wrong way up a highway. All of them were clearly blotto and should have been nowhere near a car. You don’t need a machine.

      I wonder how the state will do this one. Alcohol is water soluble, and is out of your system quickly. Weed is fat soluble, which is why a drug test lasts so long…do hard drugs, clean in 36 hours, smoke a J, and 3-7 days, or up to 30 if you are Marley. What if Marley hasn’t smoked for a week…still metabolites, but he/she isn’t high…

      Cops don’t want to handle blood products…would you want to touch saliva from random folks…I think not. Most MJ tests are spit tests…a breath machine is instead of a blood draw. Cops arent set up to do medical procedures… A breath test for MJ won’t work other than as a yes/no…

      • 0 avatar

        speedlaw – quantitative data tends to be harder to dispute than qualitative data. There will always be some variation even between experts on any subjective matter.

        Typical urine or saliva tests are basically a reagent strip that reacts to the presence of a substance. They can yield false positives. You could test positive for ecstasy or MDMA by using decongestants containing ephedrine, pseudonephedrine or other similar substances. Poppy seeds in baking will give you a false positive for narcotics. I’ve seen that happen before. I’ve heard that NSAIDS like Ibuprofen will yield false positive for THC.

        Marijuana testing will be a tough one to sort out medically and legally since there are multiple active cannabinoids and the questions then becomes; are they chemically close enough in nature for one test to pickup them all up:secondly are they all equally psychotropic and/or neurotoxic?

        Here is an example – Is the ‘head stone” of THC more of an impairment on driving than the “body stone” of CBD? Medically it is becoming more apparent that each cannabinoid has its own beneficial attributes.

        Medical marijuana opens more legal questions. If a certain level of marijuana in the blood constitutes an impairment then what does a person do if they a prescribed marijuana for a medical condition?

      • 0 avatar

        Even MADD has criticized the idea of a 0.05 BAC. It that point it has everything to do with a money grab, and zero to do with safety.

      • 0 avatar

        Funny how the goal posts keep moving, isn’t it? MADD is an evil teetotaler lobbying organization that lost it’s original goal about 30 minutes into the first meeting.

  • avatar

    Ah yes the FAST act in which the IRS can now confiscate your passport if they feel you haven’t complied with their edicts. Before you object remember gov’t has *never ever* made a mistake or abused its power in enforcing its laws. Just dispel that notion right now because its crazy talk.

  • avatar

    And now you will find out why I invested in companies involved in MARIJUANA BREATHALYZERS.

    Trolling my way into cash payments…


    They took your freedoms away.
    They will regulate you.
    They threaten you with jail time.
    Behind the curtains they get rich from your court fees.

    • 0 avatar

      “And now you will find out why I invested in companies involved in MARIJUANA BREATHALYZERS.”

      This comment taken in the context of many of your other comments would indicate that you must consume vast quantities of mind altering substances.

      75% of metabolized THC is passed in the stool and 25% is in urine.

      So please tell me how much happens to exhaled via the lungs?

      Since you feel that THC breathalyzers are a worthy investment I happen to have some investment property for you. It will be beachfront once the ice caps melt.

      • 0 avatar

        “75% of metabolized THC is passed in the stool…”

        Tommy Chong basically told us that a long time ago.

        “I had it on the table and the little _______ ate it, man. Then I had to follow him around with a little baggie for three days, man, before I got it back. Really blew the dog’s mind, ya know?”

      • 0 avatar

        BTSR is probably talking about Cannabix Technologies. Here’s an article about them in Buzzfeed with the subtitle:

        “Investors, state governments, employers — everyone wants a functional marijuana breathalyzer to test whether someone is high at a given moment. But that may not be possible.”

        • 0 avatar

          @mcs – yes that is what he was talking about. No one yet knows the correlation between impairment and blood levels of cannabinoids or the ratio of serum cannabinoid to that of what might be found in one’s breath. Investing in an expensive machine to test “pot breath” when there are no defined parameters is a waste of money. A test strip costing a few dollars will give you the same information.

          • 0 avatar

            Bottom line is this:

            I hear so many people MAKING EXCUSES as to why they aren’t making money and here I am shouting from the hills how to do it.

            INVEST in the future by figuring out how other people will screw up – and then be profited off of by smarter people.

            Jim Cramer said investing into TESLA was a bad idea… WHO’S THE SMART ONE NOW? I got in around $30.02 back in 2012.

          • 0 avatar

            BTSR – “INVEST in the future by figuring out how other people will screw up – and then be profited off of by smarter people.”

            That makes sense. I’m going to invest in a few boat companies. Especially those who specialize in Arctic shipping. The Russians are already investing heavily in the Arctic all based on the premise of open water.

            Thank you for your advice.

            For once you make sense.

            (sarcasm on)

  • avatar

    Weed must be different now than in my day. Probably like this stupid horsepower race, the THC content of regular commersh has skyrocketed and the culture has come to prize incapacitation over the supremely functional, cerebrally enhanced buzz I used to get.

    Damn kids.

    • 0 avatar

      In the immortal words of Bruce Dickinson:

      We smoked the stuff in ’69
      Now it’s different, It’s A Crime!
      Kids today don’t understand
      Kids today need a guiding hand

    • 0 avatar

      You have not tried contemporary cannabis?
      Compared to 70’s stock, well, there is no comparison.

      • 0 avatar

        Haven’t smoked since the early ’80s. Got tired of thinking I had to have weed to enjoy anything. Turned out that wasn’t true.

        I’m glad to have missed the current penchant for getting blasted on it. Sounds like getting drunk while tripping. Definitely retrograde.

  • avatar

    One of the more stupid moves by government in recent memory.
    And to say this is saying something…since government has produced some stupendous activity these past years.

    But as once warned…there is nothing more powerful than a thought or movement blowing through the land. And look out…cause this wave of mindlessness is picking up speed.

    Unless as many here at TTAC you see the unquestioning good, inherently infallibility and divinity of big government

    But to me, trying hard to think reasonably, how can you allow for a legal use of a drug that inhibits motor movement without an ability to test for its impact on the human mind and body?
    How can you not consider the problems to be face by law enforcement with this drug?

    I guess, if you are simply led around by the penis of your liberal/libertarian mindset, then how could you possibly not see, or try to foresee, BEFORE you legalize it, that there are some real problems for the law? IF there is there no way to test for its effects on drivers or workers, how can you morally feel good legalizing it?

    How could you casually ignore the possible trauma hammered upon a family when their loved ones are killed by a drug muddled driver but can do nothing about it?
    Or how would you feel if something happened to you due to somebody’s pot muddled mind at work and you or your life was effected?

    And remember, before you tear into me, I am a religiously independent 60’s raised minded person with philosophy and history as studies. But geeeezuz! Reason shouldn’t be this hard. Even drugs didn’t completely kill all my reason.

    • 0 avatar
      See 7 up

      Although equally stupid is people believing a test isn’t needed when Marijuana is illegal. I find it funny people only now get worked up about this now that Marijuana is legal in some places. Did they not know people have been driving stoned en mass for ages, legal or not.

      • 0 avatar

        CO cops have to know we’re exponentially safer with stoned drivers, vs. drunk drivers. The problem is the impact of lost DUI revenue.

      • 0 avatar


        I have always been in favor of testing. In fact, during the early and mid seventies I was a paid subject for many of these tests. I was starving in Los Angeles and needed the money and it was a fun way for many years to earn money.
        So I was for and part of testing long before before the legalizing.
        In my opinion, however, legalizing such a drug knowing that there IS no true test for its use or its effect on motor skills, an by Jesus there is, is morally wrong and at the very least.

      • 0 avatar

        Great counterpoint. Pulled the rug out from under the foundation of TT’s whole commentary.

    • 0 avatar

      “How could you casually ignore the possible trauma hammered upon a family when their loved ones are killed by a drug muddled driver but can do nothing about it? Or how would you feel if something happened to you due to somebody’s pot muddled mind at work and you or your life was effected?”

      No drugs are necessary for that outcome. Get a load of this:

      Most vehicular deaths and injuries are caused by negligence that is not related to drug or alcohol use. All forms of negligence that cause death and injury to others should be equally important and harshly punished. Why is negligence considered acceptable as long as you’re in a state of mind where you should be thinking rationally enough to not behave that way?

      • 0 avatar

        Negligence isn’t an all-or-nothing affair — intent matters. Note the differences between first-degree murder, second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter for an example of how the law takes intent into consideration.

        Getting intoxicated before the fact is an indication of intent, which makes it worse than just a mistake. The effect is not the only issue.

        • 0 avatar

          I agree that intent matters. That’s why I don’t think it should be a criminal issue. Drivers causing serious injury and death are simply incapable of making the appropriate decisions associated with operating a motor vehicle and should not be allowed to do so anymore.

          However, I don’t think getting intoxicated is any more an indication of intent than jacking your vehicle up so that its bumpers no longer align with normal bumper heights, or tailgating, or driving in slippery conditions on poor tires, or not paying attention while driving. Every one of those are systematic decisions with easily foreseeable consequences, just like driving while intoxicated.

          What sort of collision is the result of a mistake that is not the product of previous bad habits or decisions that the driver should have recognized ahead of time?

          • 0 avatar

            If you get drunk and then get behind the wheel, then you’ve made it abundantly clear that you don’t give a damn about anyone else and their safety. The linkage between intoxication and crash risk is clear as day, and every driver these days learns enough about it to be well aware of this.

            It would be difficult to find a more unambiguous example of intent to harm.

          • 0 avatar

            Same with tailgating or any other form of negligent driving, particularly when performed with a large vehicle.

            Not taking the consequences of poor driving behavior as seriously as those of drunk driving doesn’t mean that the end result is any different or less foreseeable.

            I suppose we should blame the government for not driving such information into our head multiple times a day and putting anyone suspected of potentially endangering others through the legal system. They have not made the linkage between automotive deaths and driving behaviors clear enough. It certainly isn’t reasonable for us to simply be held accountable for the outcomes of our decisions.

          • 0 avatar

            You’re still not understanding the concept of negligence. It isn’t a matter of negligent vs not negligent, but of varying degrees of negligence.

            Someone who gets wasted before driving is not just making a mistake.

          • 0 avatar

            It’s not that I don’t understand that there are degrees of negligence, I just have a tendency to place certain activities on the wrong part of the scale. It’s like some sort of social dyslexia.

            To me, driving a brodozer in a dangerous manner while sober seems like a far greater degree of negligence than cautiously driving a subcompact while at a 0.08 BAC. In my twisted mind, they’re not even comparable.

            But I fully understand that I’m not normal and never have been. This social system is as indecipherable to me as math and physics were to most of my classmates growing up. I need to accept that people who truly understand this stuff know that brodozer guy deserves a new truck after he makes a mistake and kills people, while subcompact guy deserves to be taken off the road and financially crippled for his blatantly negligent actions.

            I’m like a dog trying to understand his owner, when really I should just obey and go along with it.

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    CO police like to tout the fear inducing stat of Marijuana DUI increases and “Marijuana related traffic fatalities”, without mentioning the drop in total traffic fatalities occurring after legalization.

    I don’t condone intoxicated driving but Marijuana does not affect one like alcohol, regardless of what this cop says. Reduction in inhibition is the real issue with alcohol. People think they are better than they are. This is vastly different than the effects of marijuana, regardless what it does to something like pulse and blood pressure.

  • avatar

    Denver police are telling everyone that they figured out how to spot drivers who are high on dope? Cops in meth country have known how to do this for years, and newsflash: they weren’t the first to figure out how, either.

    • 0 avatar

      You don’t suppose that one of the keys to their success at spotting drivers high on weed is that the drivers are doing 10MPH in a 40MPH zone with smoke billowing out their windows or something like that?

      Maybe the giant bongs they’re holding are giving them away. Or the shiny chrome one-hitters.

      I can tell you something I learned in my youth. Soda can pop-tops were the roach clip of the day. When they outlawed those then the 12″ crescent wrench came into play. Something you could actually explain being in the car. A friend was once arrested for driving though town doing 15MPH in a 30MPH zone holding a crescent wrench up to his face and blowing smoke out the drivers window.

      I’m sure there’s clues to stoned drivers. No doubt in my mind.

      • 0 avatar

        Kind of reminds me of the Beatles memories.
        George and Ringo were talking about and recalling their recording sessions.
        They were explaining their heavy drug use in later recording sessions. Initially they thought they were creating brilliant work…only to listen sober the following day.
        They destroyed the earlier recordings and made rules about drug use in recordings. They were rotten. Their art work was muddled and poor.
        Now, if THIS group, one of the very finest recording teams in all history, saw there were impairments and work inhibitions resulting from pot…who here is polished enough to disagree?

  • avatar

    This is absolute horseshit honestly. Half my family is from Humboldt and if you didn’t see them smoke there’s absolutely no way to tell. Most of them smoke all day,every day and have for 40 years or more. By any reasonable measure they are not impaired in the slightest. They only people I don’t trust to drive stoned are the same people I don’t trust to drive sober: teens and the elderly.

    • 0 avatar

      By this very same logic the so called working alcoholics are equally deemed OK.
      This is a illogical form of reason.
      For instance, we condemn the use of tobacco even if your entire family smoked for over 100 years and never got lung cancer.
      It is a twisted logic.
      The skills of a few do not make for the skills of the many.
      Not any more than the sins of a few should condemn the many.
      The law is the law.
      IF you are impaired, you should not operate a vehicle.
      Be it legal or illegal drug use. Or for any reason you are impaired.
      Even if your fight with your wife has made you blind mad, you should not drive and I think the law would take this into account IF it came up as the reason for you killing a bus load of children.

      • 0 avatar

        Logic doesn’t apply, because you’re assuming false equivalence. Tons of studies have been done showing how alcohol impairs one’s ability to drive safely. Marijuana, not so much. But here’s one:

        I’ve never driven stoned, probably never will, but before we get our panties bunched up over it let’s figure out how big a problem it is, based on data, not “common sense”.

        • 0 avatar

          I am not assuming anything like that.
          I am demanding a test to find THE impairment. I never suggested all impairments and negligence are equal.
          I, unlike you, have driven stoned by both booze and pot, and many times by both.
          These were my stupid youth years and I have learned. But I KNOW what can and cannot be done while stoned.
          For the sheer fact of pure friggin luck I, and more importantly, others were not hurt.
          I was used many times in studies under the influence of both. For many years. I saw first hand how myself and a few others performed as if sober while others couldn’t tie their shoes…all under equal measured doses of these drugs.
          I cannot be fooled by those here tossing about theory and made up freedoms.
          There are real issues here.
          Please try to understand what I am saying.

        • 0 avatar

          One of the curses of current political debate are false equivalencies.

  • avatar

    If they start going by THC in the system (whether blood, urine or breath), they’re basically getting a free pass to arrest anyone who’s smoked in the last 1-6 weeks. That’s a cop’s wet dream. The comment about stoned people being just as bad as drunks is also laughable. Of course, we all know that the .08 BAC standard is completely ridiculous as well. It’s not about saving lives, it’s about making money.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. The end goal is to make everything illegal. Then cops can pick and choose who to fine/assault/imprison, based on personal bias.

      If the cops really want to catch more pot smokers, all they need to do is hang out across the street from Taco Bell after 1am.

    • 0 avatar


      I wish they’d go after people who are texting while they are driving. And, more generally, it would be really nice if they focused on reckless driving, rather than “speeding,” which, often as not, is perfectly safe.

    • 0 avatar

      “The comment about stoned people being just as bad as drunks is also laughable. ”
      I guess if you were to take the statement in general, yes.
      But the question being posed here, if there is one, is what in heck the levels of inhibit are and how exactly do you test for them.
      It not having a drink or smoking that makes you unable to drive, but rather what amount is making YOU incapable of performing the tasks.
      And yes, even though this level is different to every individual, there has to be a legal agreed to level law enforcement can do their jobs with. Leaving it as a general everything goes cannot be.
      Especially if you are the one who was injured.
      If you were the damaged party, if one of your loved ones were maimed or killed, I am guessing you would want some recourse and measurement standard.
      This is where the crap hits the road and all theory and intellectual nonsense gets erased…when it is yourself being the affronted and stand shouting for justice and restitution.

      • 0 avatar

        I realize that my efforts will be in vain, but I will explain this once:

        -It is possible to use BAC levels to fairly judge intoxication because alcohol metabolizes fairly quickly, so the BAC corresponds to a certain level of intoxication and the degradation of the skills needed to drive. High BAC = definitely drunk.

        -It is not possible to use THC levels to judge current levels of intoxication because THC metabolizes slowly. It is possible to have high THC levels while simultaneously being completely sober, something that isn’t true with alcohol. High level of THC does not necessarily = stoned.

        Do you see the difference here? My guess is that you don’t and never will, but at least I gave you one shot.

    • 0 avatar

      DubVBenz – “they’re basically getting a free pass to arrest anyone who’s smoked in the last 1-6 weeks.”



      Marijuana is now LEGAL in multiple jurisdictions therefore you CANNOT arrest anyone for testing positive nor can you arrest anyone for possession within limits set by law.

    • 0 avatar

      Making money, and perhaps some measure of the human tendency to control “others”.

  • avatar

    It’s like this old Doonesbury cartoon I have on my wall. The Sin Lobby is ginning up for another year. Mr. Jay asks buttsy how he’s doing. “Great! The new numbers came in. We’re smoking over 400,000 people a year. How many did you kill?”

    Mr. Jay: Uh, none.
    Buttsy: None?
    Mr. Jay: Zippo. The only thing I caused was 735,000 arrests
    Buttsy: Well OK! You bad!
    Mr. Jay: Next to you I feel like a total fraud.

  • avatar

    In WA each batch has to be tested for content of the various %THC and %CBD by a licensed 3rd party. I can’t believe with all the other regulation that CO has that they don’t require something similar.

    Also I don’t buy the fact that the user “won’t know” that they have been more affected or not affected at all with the current purchase vs their last.

    The reality is however that they need a scientific test that ha a reasonable relationship to the level of impairment and research to determine what level of impairment is too much to drive safely.

    • 0 avatar

      Correct. In less enlighented places, the ever famous anecdote will apply. Oh, in the 70’s, weed came by the 1/2 oz or oz. Huge bricks with seeds from “other places”. Bowls and J’s were big. Our govt got good at spotting planes that shouldn’t be there, and for once, closed a market to outside suppliers.

      Today, with the lovingly grown hybrids, bowls are tiny, and vape pipes tiner still.

      The “weed is stronger” arguement is true, but vodka is stronger than beer, and you don’t go out and have a “few pints” of vodka.

      History repeats. US folks drink hard liquor more due to prohibition..if you are gonna fill that Mercury with hooch and run revenooers, it ain’t gonna be Bordeax in the trunk. Likewise, if XX grams of weed = YY penalty, you may as well breed the strongest possible.

      Oh, and inconsistency state to state is huge….not driving, possession only in NY is a $100 fine, more or less in most places. In NJ, it is a six month probation and about $2k in fines with a possible license suspension (again, NOT driving). Some places it is even a Felony. In CA this summer, it could have been legal for me if I’d gone to a doc and for $40 gotten a permission slip….

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve been to a Washington dispensary. They had something listed at 36% THC!! I’m not even that old, but I’d much prefer something between 10-15%. Enough that I could casually smoke a joint without barricading myself in my house for the next 8 hours.

        • 0 avatar
          See 7 up

          A study was done that showed most advertised THC percentages were over-estimated. And why not?
          I think its funny people think the industry will sell 20% THC cannabis as 15% THC. Why would any business person do that when one pays more for increased THC content.

  • avatar

    Colorado’s experiment with legal weed will show up in the traffic accident records. If and when the public responds (in possible outrage), then law enforcement will know what to do.

    Being drunk and being stoned are quite different experiences. Both may turn out to be equally bad as far as driving is concerned.

    • 0 avatar
      See 7 up

      Outrage at lower traffic fatalities?
      Because that is what happened.

      Now prohibitionists will sound the alarm at the increase in marijuana related fatalities, but this is like saying one wants more total fatalities, but lower marijuana fatalities.
      Furthermore, the stat is skewed as it relates all fatalities in which a driver has THC metabolites in there system and/or THC in their blood. Neither are a sure sign of intoxication nor are they a sign the crash was caused by impairment by marijuana and/or marijuana alone.

  • avatar

    The day is rapidly approaching when it won’t matter. When your car is capable of autonomous operation, stoned, drunk, or whatever, just flip on the autopilot and you’re driving just like everyone else. Indeed, at that point you’re essentially just a passenger and not breaking any law.

    • 0 avatar

      In a way that will be nice. I would definitely end up drinking more/more often if I never had to drive places afterward.

    • 0 avatar
      This Is Dawg

      This response may be in the wrong place, but @Irvingklaws:

      “When your car is capable of autonomous operation, stoned, drunk, or whatever, just flip on the autopilot and you’re driving just like everyone else. Indeed, at that point you’re essentially just a passenger and not breaking any law.”

      This begs the question of who bears the burden of evidence in proving the car was in autonomous mode the whole time you’ve been impaired? What’s to keep an impaired driver from making half the trip in manual mode, seeing a cop, and switching to autonomous? Should the car have some sort of exterior indication, like a raised “I was Speeding!” spoiler on a Porsche? Like Porsche, wouldn’t this discourage automakers from creating external incriminators?

      What if regulators require autonomous cars to keep a log of the times they’re operated in manual or autonomous modes, in order for police to confirm that the computer was swerving, and not a human driver? Should these cars only be able to switch between modes when in Park?

      Perhaps with intoxicated “drivers” in mind, automakers can include a non-legally-required way for intoxicated drivers to start the car, confirm they’re in no state to drive, and lock out manual input until destination is reached. “Look ossifer, I tell it to drive me dere itsselfs!”

      What if we assume a car can lock you out, but is programmed to NEVER drive on the left side of the road. What is an intoxicated driver to do then, if an accident or construction forces you to detour into an oncoming lane but your car won’t let you and you can’t take over the reins?
      Wait it out till you’re sober? Restart the car and drive through the detour drunk?

      (These aren’t questions for you to answer, they’re just inspired by your point.)

      • 0 avatar
        See 7 up

        Um, a simple data logger would be able to tell when the automated function was turned off and on. I think if we can master driverless cars, this piece of technology should be cake (especially as it already exists)

      • 0 avatar

        This already doesn’t matter in most states.

        In my neck of the woods the DWI law includes a thing called “Actual Physical Control.”

        Let me explain how this works. I will recite a first hand account as this exact thing happened to me.

        I was DRUNK. Silly-assed drunk. Happy drunk. I have a designated driver. Perfectly sober DD. He wants a soft drink and a pack of cigarettes so we pull up to a convenience store. It’s cold – dead of winter. My DD gets out of the car and enters the convenience store. The car is running and the heater is on. Suddenly I’m gut-wrenching sick. I open the door, throw up, close the door and sit back in the passenger seat. This is observed by an eager, brand new city policeman who pulls up next to the car and demands that I get out. He immediately handcuffs me and has my car impounded stranding my DD at the convenience store.

        So, what do they charge me with? Public drunk? No. They charge me with “Actual Physical Control” because I’m in the front seat with the car running. It’s the same penalty as DWI. They take my license and I have to go to DWI school, be assessed by a psychiatrist and attend a victims impact session and my license is suspended for 6 months.

        The state assumes that since I’m in the front seat and the keys are in the ignition, I COULD drive it. Therefore I am guilty.

        Speedlaw could explain this better I’m sure but this very thing happened to me in Oklahoma and it’s the law in an awful lot of states.

        Is there any difference if you’re drunk in an autonomous car? Not if it can be driven by a human. You’d be hammered guilty for that.

        Now for some friendly advice: If you’re impaired and being driven by a DD who needs to leave the car for any reason, make them take the keys. Problem solved.

        I could go on ad-nauseam about all the things that are totally wrong in this country, but all of us should take exception to these kinds of laws. Can we be that far away from being arrested for murder just because we own a gun and we COULD kill someone with it?

        • 0 avatar

          Ah, there’s another thing… stoners don’t empty the stinking contents of their stomachs in public places forcing poor minimum-wage schmucks to deal with cleaning it up.

          God, I hate drunks. Yet so few people think the death penalty should apply to extreme cases. But Nature’s judgement is just as final if slower and costlier to the rest of us.

        • 0 avatar

          The bottom line in our society is common sense is in fact uncommon.

  • avatar

    I suspect that Colorado police spot impaired drivers by looking for the critical signs, such as:

    -Phish stickers
    -ownership of a VW Bus
    -white dude with dreads
    -Bob Marley music
    -Interior littered with funyons

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