Arizona Police Get Tough on Marijuana DUIs
Penalties & Consequences For Marijuana DUI In Arizona
When many people hear about DUIs, they only think about people driving under the influence of alcohol. However, in Arizona, it is illegal to drive under the influence of any substance that impairs driving ability. Clearly, this includes illegal drugs like cocaine, methamphetamines, heroine, and PCP. But it also includes drugs that can be legally acquired, like marijuana and some prescription medications. Now that marijuana has been legalized, Arizona is cracking down on not just drunk driving, but driving under the influence of marijuana as well. If you’ve been arrested for driving high in Arizona, you are facing serious consequences and aggressive prosecution. Don’t wait to start planning your legal defense by calling 480-833-8000 to schedule your free consultation with our firm.
Arizona DUIs & Marijuana DUIs
If you are curious about Arizona’s DUI statute word for word, you can find it in Arizona Revised Statutes § 28-1381. This statute makes it unlawful in Arizona to “drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle” after ingesting an intoxicating liquor, drug, etc. Usually, driving impairment is measured by BAC, or blood alcohol content. The legal limit in Arizona varies by age (the legal limit for anyone under 21 is 0.0) and type of vehicle (commercial vehicles have a BAC limit of .04), but you are presumed to be intoxicated with a BAC of .08 or higher. You also may be arrested for DUI- impaired to the slightest degree if your BAC registers at .04 to .079. The charges increase to Extreme DUI and Super Extreme DUI as the BAC at the time of arrest increases. But clearly, blood alcohol content can’t be used to determine impairment when the relevant substance is marijuana. The technology for road testing for marijuana will be here in the near future, but most marijuana DUI cases rely on blood or urine testing.
For you to be arrested for a marijuana DUI, the police officer must have had reasonable suspicion that you were driving high to pull you over, and probable cause to take you into custody. Examples of things that could give a police officer reasonable suspicion that you are driving high include driving too fast or slow, failure to use turn signals and headlights, drifting and swerving, rolling stops, and more. Once the police officer has pulled you over, they will be looking for signs of intoxication sufficient to create probable cause to place you under arrest. If you reek of weed, have red eyes, have slowed or slurred speech, or otherwise appear to be high, the police officer will probably ask you questions and possibly to complete field sobriety testing. Field sobriety testing, like standing on one foot and walking in a straight line, is optional. But if you refuse a breathalyzer, urine, or blood test in Arizona, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. If you were arrested for marijuana DUI in Arizona and believe these or your other constitutional rights were violated, don’t hesitate to contact our firm for your free consultation at 480-833-8000.
Arizona Marijuana DUI Penalties
Arizona has strict sentencing guidelines for anyone convicted of DUI. For a first-time conviction, the minimum jail sentence is 10 days. The fines will start at $1,250. You will need to complete drug and alcohol screening and treatment, as well as community service. A DUI conviction is at least 8 points on your driving record, meaning you will need to complete defensive driving school. You might successfully request that the judge excuse you from installing an ignition interlock device in your vehicle as that device only detects alcohol. The penalty ranges increase if you are arrested a second time, third, and so on. Being convicted of multiple marijuana DUIs in Arizona could also put you at risk of being charged with a felony.
Marijuana DUI Can Be a Felony
In Arizona, any type of DUI can be elevated to a felony if certain aggravating factors are present. A felony DUI is much more serious than a misdemeanor DUI, carrying a longer prison sentence, heavier fines, and lifelong restrictions on civil rights. The factors that create an aggravated DUI in Arizona are:
- Passenger(s) in the car under the age of 15
- Restricted, canceled, revoked, etc., driver’s license
- Ignition interlock device installed or ordered to be installed
- Driving the wrong way down a highway
- Third DUI in 7 years
Arizona Zero Tolerance Marijuana DUI
Arizona’s DUI laws are worded strictly- you can also be arrested “while there is any drug . . . or its metabolite in the person’s body.” That would make even the slightest inhalation of marijuana enough to arrest someone for a DUI. And regular marijuana users know that it can stay in your system for weeks after use. However, as marijuana became legalized both medicinally and recreationally, that needed to be tweaked. A.R.S. § 36-2852 states that someone who is at least 21 years old and pulled over with marijuana metabolites in their system should only be convicted of DUI if that person is impaired to at least the slightest degree. So while that blunt you smoked a week and a half ago might show up on a drug screen, it isn’t enough to show impairment at the time of arrest if you haven’t smoked since. But if you are arrested for marijuana DUI the morning after a night watching movies and hitting the bong, you might still have enough metabolites in your system to be impaired. A strong defense can show that the amount of metabolites in your system wasn’t enough to decrease your driving abilities.
How To Avoid Getting an Arizona Marijuana DUI
Unfortunately, the cold hard truth is that if you never want to be placed under arrest for marijuana DUI, you either need to give up marijuana or drive. Refusing to take a chemical test isn’t an option, because you will automatically lose your driver’s license for a year and probably be arrested anyway. Even if you wait long periods between ingesting marijuana and driving, you could be at risk for being arrested and dealing with the hassle of a marijuana DUI. If you have ingested marijuana recently and feel even the slightest bit off, don’t risk it- order a rideshare or wait until you are fully sober before getting behind the wheel.
Affordable Arizona DUI Lawyers With Experience
Your public defender is likely fresh out of law school, overworked, and underpaid. After whatever penalties you face, you still might even be required to reimburse the county for some or all of your defense costs. That’s why if you can find private criminal defense attorneys who offer free consultations, it doesn’t hurt to at least call them and see what they have to say about your case. At Arizona Zero Down DUI, our team is seasoned when it comes to defending Arizona drivers against DUI charges. We work hard to derive the best possible outcomes for our clients based on their unique situations. And this type of top-notch legal service shouldn’t only be accessible to the affluent. We offer low-budget rates with payment plan options to fit in your budget. Your initial consultation is 100% free and confidential, so there’s no risk in filling out our online form or calling 480-833-8000 to schedule yours today.
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