Pot legal? You can still get a DUI

Voters in Washington and Colorado on Tuesday legalizing recreational use of marijuana, but that doesn’t make drugged driving in those states legal.

Both states -- as well as the 17 where medicinal use is approved -- penalize stoned drivers the same way they do drunken drivers.

Washington’s ballot measure establishes a concentration of 5 nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milliliter of blood as proof of impaired driving. Backers of Initiative 502 say a marijuana smoker who lets several hours pass before getting behind the wheel should fall beneath that standard. But most other states – where marijuana is still considered an illegal substance -- have a zero-tolerance standard.

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Among the notable backers of the legalization measures was Peter B. Lewis, the chairman of Progressive Insurance.

A DUI is still a downer

Those who are convicted of impaired driving face major legal and financial issues. CarInsurance.com's "What's Your Limit?" tool, though geared toward those planning to drink, spells out the state by state penalties for a DUI conviction.

In most states, a driver convicted of a first-offense DUI is required to spend at least some time in jail -- 24 to 72 hours is common. Fines can reach $5,000. You'll lose your license in many places for a year.

You usually must file an SR-22 form -- an insurance company’s guarantee to the state that you are carrying the mandatory coverage. The form is cheap, but the fact that you are required to have one is a huge red flag to insurance companies.

At least you won’t face a possession charge.

You will, however, have to pay a huge penalty for insurance. Car insurers don’t really care what you ingested, only that you have a conviction on your driving record.

You should expect your insurance rates to double for as long as the DUI is on your record; in most states, that's three years.

We ran auto insurance quotes on basic liability and personal injury protection for a 24-year-old woman in Seattle driving a 2005 Honda Accord EX to and from work, with no prior violations. After adding a DUI conviction, the cheapest rate we found rose from $742 a year to $1,608.

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