Marijuana's crash risk proves a challenge for Boulder County prosecutors – Longmont Times-Call

With two cases pending in Boulder County alleging that drivers in vehicular fatalities were under the influence of marijuana, prosecutors are faced with proving beyond a reasonable doubt a connection between “bad driving” and THC blood levels.

Impaired driving already is Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett’s primary public safety concern and he said that now the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana has posed complexities in evaluating recent traffic violations.

“Would this crash have happened if marijuana weren’t a factor?” Garnett said, noting a question that often crosses his mind when such cases appear on his desk.

In Boulder County, there were 2,143 DUI cases in 2014, there were 1,887 in 2015 and there are 1,242 so far this year, and although statistics are not categorized by alcohol or drug, prosecutors estimate up to 30 percent of their impaired driving case load involves marijuana.

The drivers in two fatal crashes — the first in Boulder that killed two people at a stoplight and the second in Longmont that killed an 8-year-old girl on her bike — are being charged with vehicular homicide coupled with driving under the influence of marijuana theories.

An arrest affidavit released Friday reveals police suspect that Kyle Couch, 20, of Longmont, was driving his Ford F-250 pickup with at least 1.5 nanograms of THC in his blood, indicated by a sample drawn more than two hours after the collision.


He is expected to be charged with vehicular homicide and other crimes August 12.

The amount of THC present in the blood of Quinn Hefferan, 17, of Boulder, who is being prosecuted as a juvenile, have not yet been released. But he told police he had smoked marijuana hours before the May 7 crash.

Having five or more nanograms of THC present in

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