Getting arrested for DUI does not mean you will be convicted. Police misconduct, defective breathalyzers and crime lab mistakes may be enough to get your charges lessened or dismissed. Visit our page on Colorado DUI Laws to learn more.
1. Can I drive with marijuana from Colorado to another state?
No. It is a criminal offense to drive with marijuana from Colorado to another state. It does not matter if you have a medical marijuana card or if the state you are driving to has legalized recreational cannabis.1
So before you drive across state lines from Colorado, dispose of any marijuana or THC products or edibles.
2. What should I do if I get pulled over after leaving Colorado?
If police pull you over for a traffic stop, be polite and show the officers your driver’s license, registration, and insurance if asked. You do not have to answer any other questions.2 If they ask to search your car, politely say, “I do not consent to a search.”
While the police officers are running your name for warrants and writing up your traffic citation, they will be glancing through your driver’s side window for any signs of contraband. Just sit calmly and give them no reason for them to suspect you are committing a crime or are posing a danger.
The police then should let you go after giving you your citation.
3. Can the police search my car during a traffic stop?
Law enforcement officers can only search your car after a traffic stop if:
they ask to search the car and you consent (which you should not do);
they have probable cause to believe the car contains evidence of criminal activity (such as if they saw a joint in your glove compartment while you were retrieving your registration);
they reasonably believe you pose a danger, and they have to search the car to protect themselves; or
they arrest you (such as for having an outstanding warrant), and they conduct a search of the car incident to the arrest.
Simply getting pulled over for speeding, failing to signal, or another traffic infraction should not give police sufficient cause to search you or your car for contraband. Though if you get pulled over for a DUI or DWAI, then police can search your car following your arrest.3
4. What are the penalties if I get arrested for having marijuana?
Transporting marijuana across state lines is a federal smuggling crime punishable by at least 5 or 10 years in prison depending on the amount of marijuana.4
If the state you get arrested in criminalizes marijuana, you can also be arrested under state law for marijuana possession. Even if marijuana use is legal there, you can still get arrested and face jail time for possessing the marijuana in public.
Law enforcement officials are suspicious of motorists in non-Colorado cars leaving Colorado.
5. Do police have marijuana checkpoints outside the Colorado borders?
There are no reports of marijuana checkpoints outside of Colorado. Though the highways connecting Colorado with neighboring states are teeming with highway patrol officers suspicious of anyone with non-Colorado plates.
Merely having a non-Colorado plate does not provide police with sufficient reasonable suspicion to pull you over. So some police tail drivers with non-Colorado license plates until they commit a minor traffic violation so that they can pull them over and hopefully smell or spy marijuana through the driver’s side window.5
Therefore, drivers should be especially careful on such highways as:
I-25 (connecting Colorado to Wyoming and New Mexico)
6. Can police use drug-sniffing dogs during traffic stops?
Police may not prolong an ordinary, non-drug related traffic stop for the sole purpose of bringing a K-9 dog on the scene to sniff your car. So once the officer finishes writing your citation, the traffic stop should end – the police cannot keep detaining you to use a K-9 dog.6
Arrested on misdemeanor or felony criminal charges in Colorado? Contact our criminal defense lawyers for legal advice. Our Colorado law firm practice throughout the state including Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, and more.
ACLU of Kansas’ “Kansas Two-Step” case against KHP can continue, Tenth Circuit rules, ACLU Kansas (June 6, 2022)(“Drivers with out-of-state plates made up 93 percent of KHP stops in 2017…This is done via a training method known as “The Kansas Two-Step.” After issuing a ticket or warning for the initial stop, the officer turns his or her body, takes two steps toward the patrol cruiser, but then asks if the driver would answer a few more questions…In 2016, the Tenth Circuit found that a KHP trooper illegally relied on a driver’s out of state license and other innocuous conduct to support their “reasonable suspicion” that the driver was trafficking drugs. Monday’s decision reaffirms that the Fourth Amendment requires officers to have reasonable suspicion—based on articulable facts, not mere hunches—to detain people after a traffic stop. It also reaffirmed that travel to or from so-called “drug source” states should play little, if any role, in an officer’s justification for a prolonged detention.”). Roxana Hegeman, Kansas Highway Patrol targets out-of-state drivers — especially those traveling from Colorado, lawsuit alleges, Denver Post (). Trevor Hughes, Patrolling for pot traffic on Colorado’s fringes, USA Today (March 4, 2014).
Michael Becker has over a quarter-century's worth of experience as an attorney and more than 100 trials under his belt. He is a sought-after legal commentator and is licensed to practice law in Colorado, Nevada, California, and Florida.