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Understanding the Laws Surrounding Recreational Cannabis and DUIs

April 12, 2024

With changing attitudes and laws regarding recreational cannabis use, it’s crucial to understand how these shifts interact with driving under the influence (DUI) statutes. Arizona’s approach to handling DUIs in the context of marijuana use aims to find a balance between acknowledging the legality of cannabis while prioritizing public safety. As a criminal defense attorney with over 20 years of experience in the Tucson area, Janet Altschuler is here to help you understand these laws and how they can affect you. 

Understanding ARS 28-1381

The Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-1381 is a piece of legislation that oversees DUI offenses in the state of Arizona, including those related to the use of drugs like marijuana. This statute delineates two primary ways individuals can find themselves facing DUI charges in the context of drug use, including cannabis.

Firstly, under ARS 28-1381(A)(1), operating a motor vehicle under the influence of any drug, alcohol, or inhalant to the extent that you’re impaired to the slightest degree is unlawful. This section is broad and inclusive, covering impairment from marijuana as well. Importantly, being impaired to the slightest degree by marijuana can result in a DUI charge, regardless of whether the individual possesses a medical marijuana card (MMJ Card). 

Secondly, ARS 28-1381(A)(3) introduces a zero-tolerance stance toward driving with any detectable amount of certain drugs or their metabolites in one’s system. This includes not only marijuana but also substances like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines, as well as prescription drugs taken without a valid prescription. The law is clear: The presence of these substances, regardless of impairment, can lead to DUI charges.

The Legal Marijuana Limit

In the state of Arizona, there is no specific level of marijuana that is considered to ‘impair’ the driver. However, this can often lead to complexities when determining whether someone was driving under the influence. While it is legal for adults over the age of 21 to use marijuana, it is not legal to drive under the influence. If you are pulled over under the suspicion that you might be impaired by cannabis, a police officer may ask you to perform a sobriety test or look for signs of impairment such as bloodshot eyes, the smell of marijuana, slowed reaction times, and the inability to concentrate. They may also test you for marijuana, and you could be found guilty of a DUI if you are found to have 2 ng/ml of Delta-9 THC in your blood within two hours of operating a motor vehicle, even if you are not impaired. 

Dealing with Marijuana DUI? Contact Janet Altschuler Today

How DUI laws and recreational cannabis use relate to each other can be confusing. That’s why it’s essential to have expert legal guidance if you are accused of a DUI. Janet Altschuler, with her extensive experience in criminal defense, is adept at helping clients understand their rights and responsibilities under Arizona law. Her expertise is invaluable for anyone facing DUI charges related to marijuana use. Don’t wait—contact her today for a free consultation.

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