How Does Arizona’s Prop 207 Affect DUI Arrests?
What You Need To Know On Arizona’s Prop 207
Arizona recently passed Prop 207, which legalized personal recreational marijuana for users 21 years of age and older. It also changed Arizona’s previous DUI laws, which allowed anyone who tested positive for THC while driving to be charged with DUI, and a defense that the driver wasn’t intoxicated was only available to those who held a valid medical marijuana card.
If a police officer suspects you of DUI, they will need to have reasonable suspicion to pull you over and probable cause to place you under arrest. Bad driving behaviors like speeding or driving too slow, disobeying traffic signals, and failing to use headlights and turn signals can all give the police officer reasonable suspicion to pull you over. Once you are pulled over, admitting to using marijuana, a positive chemical test, and obvious high behavior can give the officer probable cause to place you under arrest for DUI. Once you have been arrested, you will be blood tested (if you haven’t already) for THC in your system. It will then be your (and your attorney’s) responsibility to prove that there wasn’t enough THC in your system to impair your driving, or your rights were violated in some other way.
What Is Prop 207?
Proposition 207 was passed in the 2020 election, and legalizes recreational marijuana for those over 21 in the state of Arizona. Before Prop 207 was passed, anyone in Arizona who wanted to use marijuana needed to get a medical marijuana card from a licensed medical doctor. Drivers in Arizona could be charged with DUI for any amount of recreational THC in their system, despite THC remaining in the bloodstream for days after using marijuana, and after the high has ended. Only medical marijuana card holders had a possible defense to argue the amount of THC in their system wasn’t enough for them to be impaired.
Can I Smoke Weed And Drive Now In Arizona?
Just like you can legally purchase alcohol but it’s illegal to drive drunk, you can soon purchase recreational marijuana but it is still illegal to drive high. DUI stands for driving under the influence, and this can mean the influence of substances besides alcohol. Hard drugs, certain prescription medication, and marijuana- both recreational and medical- all impair driving ability.
So how does marijuana impair driving ability? It can slow down decision making and reaction time, which obviously negative impacts your driving skills. Marijuana use can also decrease your coordination and perception, and cause memory loss. All of these effects combined make for a terrible driver.
This doesn’t mean that you will get a DUI hours after a small puff, either. Prop 207 added a new statute to Arizona’s DUI laws, 36 A.R.S. § 2852.B. This statute makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle after using marijuana if that person is impaired to the slightest degree. While it will be up to the officer’s discretion to determine if you are impaired to the slightest degree, you may be able to later prove you weren’t impaired based on the level of THC in your system. Previously, you could be charged with DUI for even trace amounts of THC. Frequent marijuana users may report trace amounts of marijuana days or even weeks without using. So while it hasn’t become legal to drive while high, it is now harder to get arrested for DUI if you haven’t used enough marijuana to impair your driving ability.
What Is A Marijuana DUI In Arizona?
Arizona Revised Statutes § 28-1381 sets forth that anyone who is found to be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and controlled substances can be charged with DUI. This allows for DUI charges against even those who are only “impaired to the slightest degree.” A.R.S. § 13-401 includes marijuana in all forms, as well as synthetic and imitation marijuana, in the definition of drugs as they apply to DUI.
What Are The Penalties For A Marijuana DUI In AZ?
Just like Arizona’s notoriously strict alcohol DUI punishments, the penalties for a marijuana DUI are harsh as well. If convicted of a marijuana DUI in Arizona, you will serve at least 1-10 days in jail. Your driver’s license will be suspended for at least 90 days, and you may need to use an ignition interlock device to get your license back, depending on the circumstances of your arrest. The minimum fines and assessments will be $1,250, and you will be required to complete community service. You will also need to complete drug screening and counseling. The standard minimum penalties increase for subsequent DUI convictions. The judge will also look at factors like the level of intoxication and the extent of the damage caused by the driver when deciding which penalties to impose upon the driver.
There are many consequences you might face besides the state standard minimum penalties. You may be required to obtain SR-22 insurance coverage, which is for high-risk drivers and typically doubles the auto insurance rates of drivers in Arizona. Your jail time, IID, traffic school, and other court-ordered penalties will all come with additional one-time or monthly costs. You may even be required to reimburse the county for your public defender, should you choose not to hire a private defense attorney.
A misdemeanor marijuana DUI will remain on your criminal record for life and count against you in job background checks, apartment applications, etc. However, you can also be charged with felony DUI, which will have even more serious consequences on your life, if any of the following are met: (1) you have a passenger under 15 with you; (2) your driver’s license is already suspended or revoked from a previous DUI; (3) you have an IID in your vehicle; or (4) this is your third DUI in 84 months. A felony DUI carries mandatory prison time, higher fines, and longer terms for the rest of the misdemeanor penalties.
How High Do I Have To Be To Get Arrested For DUI?
In Arizona, you are presumed to be intoxicated if you have a BAC of .08 or higher, but can be found to be impaired to the slightest degree with a BAC of .04 to .079. There is no equivalent measure for marijuana use, as a low amount of THC may impair an infrequent user’s ability to drive, while the same amount of THC may not even register for a frequent user. While Arizona doesn’t have a specific THC measure for DUI like a BAC of .08, some states have limits that are measured based on how many nanograms of THC show up per milliliter of blood, often 5 ng/mL.
Arrested For Marijuana DUI In Arizona, Get Help Now!
If you’ve been arrested for marijuana DUI in Arizona, you’re facing harsh consequences and need a dedicated and experienced legal advocate to defend you. The sooner you bring your defense attorney into your case, the sooner your attorney can start taking steps to strengthen your case and prevent you from incriminating yourself. Our Arizona DUI attorneys offer reasonable rates and affordable payment options. See just how much a private defense attorney can be today, no risk, with your free initial consultation. Call My AZ Lawyers today to schedule your appointment- same day phone consultations are available.
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