In Arizona, you can be convicted of a DUI if driving while a drug is in your system. For prescription drugs, there is a defense to DUI if the driver has a drug in his or her system but was taking the drug as prescribed by a doctor. In such cases, a patient may still get a DUI but the State must prove that the driver was impaired. However, marijuana is still treated differently even if the driver has a medical marijuana card.
Under the current state of the law, it makes ZERO difference whether you have a medical card or not for purposes of DUI. In other words, so long as there is an active metabolite of marijuana in your system while driving, you are guilty of DUI. Sometimes, this can be difficult to determine because a person who has recently smoked marijuana, but no longer high may sometimes have no signs of impairment for the task of driving. Unlike alcohol where there is a consensus that all people are impaired at a level of .08 or higher, there is no such consensus when it comes to marijuana. Nonetheless, it is illegal to drive if the marijuana metabolite hydroxy-THC is still lingering in a person’s system.
As a result, even if using marijuana as a qualified patient, you cannot drive regardless of whether impaired or not. Given the strong smell of marijuana even a routine civil traffic stop may quickly turn into a marijuana DUI once the officer approaches the vehicle. Importantly, the consequences of a marijuana DUI are particularly harsh and includes mandatory jail and a one-year revocation of a person’s driver’s license.
If you have been charged with a marijuana DUI, call defense attorney Matt Maerowitz for a free consultation at 602-912-5897.
Image courtesy of Paul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
*NOTE: A couple weeks after writing this, the Arizona Supreme Court changed the marijuana DUI landscape allowing a new, but limited defense. See my post on the recent change: https://maerowitzlaw.com/2015/11/25/arizona-supreme-court-issues-opinion-regarding-marijuana-duis-how-does-dobson-v-mcclennen-change-the-dui-landscape/