Marijuana DUI Laws in Arizona
The legal environment surrounding marijuana use has drastically changed during the past ten years. In 2010 it was decriminalized for medical use, and in 2020, Proposition 207 was passed, making it legal for recreational use. This does not exclude you from facing charges under DUI Arizona law for driving while intoxicated with marijuana, though.
You shouldn’t drive a car if you’re under the influence of drugs that could affect your ability to think or move. However, many people use marijuana for medical reasons, and some even have identification cards to prove it. We’ll talk about how this has affected the wording of Arizona’s legislation.
Marijuana DUI Statutes
Arizona’s DUI law can be found at ARS 28-1381. There are two ways under this statute to accuse someone of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs. If you are even slightly intoxicated, it is against the law to use a motor vehicle while under the influence of any drug, alcohol, or inhalant, according to 28-1381(A)(1).
If a person consumes marijuana and then drives a vehicle while impaired by it, they can be charged with a marijuana DUI under this law.
When someone operates a motor vehicle under the influence of any drug specified in ARS 13-3401 or its metabolite, they may be charged with DUI under ARS 28-1381(A)(3). You can be arrested under this provision even if you don’t have any listed drugs in your system, making it a zero-tolerance rule. Among the listed substances are marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and prescription medications used without a legal prescription.
While ARS 13-1381(A)(3) lists marijuana as a prohibited substance, ARS 36-2852(B) specifies that a person who possesses marijuana or its metabolites in their system cannot be found guilty of a DUI under this paragraph unless they are even slightly impaired.
Marijuana DUI Consequences
Once you are found guilty, the severity of the sentence is unaffected by the new Arizona marijuana DUI regulations, even if they make it harder for the government to prove its case. The DUI penalties in Arizona are still among the highest in the nation. For instance, in Phoenix, a first-time marijuana DUI offender faces up to ten days in jail and five years of probation. If you are found guilty of a second crime, you might spend up to five years on probation after serving at least 30 days in jail. Once you are allowed to drive, you must also put a device in your car that checks if you can start it.
Is Medical Use Acceptable according to DUI Arizona Law?
The legal text concerning prohibited substances is not helpful, as it specifies cannabis and any “compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation” containing it. Moreover, since Arizona is an Implied Consent State, you may not refuse a blood or urine test.
However, the legislators have decided to add more sections to the Arizona Revised Statutes in order to enshrine the newly approved uses of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. Thus, ARS Section 36-2852(B) states that you are in violation of DUI Arizona law only if you are “impaired to the slightest degree”.
How Can Law Enforcement Officers Prove that You Are Impaired?
If the police pull you over, the officer’s first request is that you take a breath alcohol test. Marijuana consumption would not cause you to fail this test if you did not drink alcohol.
However, the officers may be looking for other signs of impairment, such as:
- Red eyes
- Odor of cannabis
- Any paraphernalia related to marijuana visible in your vehicle
- Delayed reaction time
- Slurred speech
- Poor hand-to-eye coordination.
Additionally, they might ask you to exit the car and submit to a field sobriety test. Please be aware that you are not required to take it by Arizona DUI law. Also, any good lawyer for your criminal defense will tell you not to take this test.
Perfectly sober people frequently fail the test because of their heightened emotional state.
What to Do If You Are Required to Provide a Blood Sample
As stated in this post, you cannot decline to provide a blood or urine sample. However, according to DUI Arizona law, you have the right to seek legal counsel first.
And this is what you should do: consent to taking the test and call a criminal defense lawyer right away, outlining your circumstances. Over the phone, you will receive first instructions detailing exactly what to say.
Do Not Take a Marijuana DUI Lightly
If you are stopped, and there are grounds to believe you were operating a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, you will need all the legal assistance you can obtain, regardless of the outcome. The DUI law in Arizona imposes some of the worst penalties in the country,
If you had used marijuana, a good criminal defense lawyer can fight the accusations and bring in many expert witnesses to show that you were not even slightly impaired when you were stopped.