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DUI and Marijuana

October 25, 2015

DUI stands for “driving under the influence.” This offense refers to individuals charged with operating a motor vehicle while suffering impairment related to a chemical drug, including alcohol and many types of prescription medications. In the state of Arizona, marijuana is a tightly-regulated drug legal only for medical purposes; however, a DUI issued for driving under the influence of medical marijuana may be dismissed, depending on your situation and the type of evidence cited during your case.

Understanding DUIs

Arizona law states that it is unlawful for an individual to control a vehicle while a drug or its metabolite is in their system. Metabolites are chemicals created by the body as it metabolizes a food or substance, including drugs and alcohol. Because they are the direct results of drug ingestion, metabolites are often used as tracers of certain drugs, even if the actual drug itself is no longer present in the body. Blood, urine, and breath tests may be used in cases of traffic stops determine whether a given drug or its metabolite is present in the body at the time of the stop.

Marijuana and DUIs

As marijuana is metabolized by the body, two different metabolites are created, which can be identified via blood and urine tests. While one of these metabolites is known to cause impairment, the other does not, but can remain in the body for several weeks following marijuana use. Although the wording of Arizona law regarding DUIs and marijuana is somewhat ambiguous, an Arizona Supreme Court ruling in 2014 clarified the issue, determining that the presence of the long-term non-psychoactive marijuana metabolite in the blood does not indicate impairment under DUI law.

If you have been charged with a DUI in Tucson, Janet Altshuler can help. Our practice offers experienced advice and legal defense in DUI and drug possession cases. Please visit our website or call us at (520) 247-1789 or toll-free at (866) 377-7808 to speak with a criminal defense attorney today or request a free consultation.