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Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

By:
Armando Nava

Although marijuana laws are changing in Arizona, DUI laws are not. The consequences for driving under the influence of alcohol are well publicized. However, some do not realize that it is also illegal to drive under the influence of drugs, including marijuana. Even if you are legally able to use marijuana for medical reasons, it is still considered a crime if you drive under such use. Drug DUI charges are as serious as alcohol DUI charges. The laws are strict and the punishment is harsh.

Laws Regarding Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

Under A.R.S. § 28-1381, it is unlawful for a person to drive a vehicle if:

  • They are under the influence of any drug if the person is impaired to the slightest degree
  • There is any drug or its metabolite in the person’s body

Under A.R.S. § 13-3401, “drugs” includes marijuana. Be aware that if drug paraphernalia is found, additional violations may be charged.

Marijuana DUI Testing

Before you are pulled over, police officers have already begun their investigation. They have observed your speed, use of blinkers, and ability to switch lanes. Once you are pulled over, the officer is continuing to note how you interact with them, your ability to communicate and follow instructions, how you retrieve the needed paper work, and if there are any drugs or open containers in sight.

Officers may attempt to strike up a conversation with you. For instance, where you are coming from, where you are going, or what you did that day. You are not obligated to answer these, you have the constitutional right not to incriminate yourself. However, if you choose to invoke your Fifth Amendment right, do so in a polite and respectful way.

If the officers suspect you are driving under the influence, they will ask you to step out of the vehicle to participate in a Field Sobriety Test. These are not mandatory in Arizona, you may refuse. The reasoning behind this is that they have a low reliability rate considering the same officer is instructing, conducting, and grading the driver. However, if an officer has probable cause to believe the driver is impaired due to drugs, they will require the driver to participate in chemical testing.

Drivers in Arizona are deemed to have given consent to breath, blood, and urine testing when pulled over if requested to do so by an officer. These tests are to check for the presence of a controlled substances in the person’s body. A driver has the right to refuse the Field Sobriety Test but NOT these tests. Refusal will result in a license suspension and the prosecutor will be able to argue that the refusal was evidence of guilt.

Marijuana DUI Penalties

First offense:

  • Misdemeanor
  • Mandatory drug screening, education, and treatment
  • Probation or Community Service
  • Driver’s License suspension
  • Fines and Fees of $1,250.00
  • Minimum of 1 to 10 days in jail

Second offense:

  • Misdemeanor
  • Mandatory drug screening, education, and treatment
  • Probation or Community Service
  • Driver’s License suspension
  • Fines and Fees of $3,000.00
  • Minimum of 90 days in jail

If a third offense happens within 84 months, it will be considered an aggravated DUI. If a child under the age of 15 years old is in the vehicle during a DUI, it will be considered an aggravated DUI.

Get Help from an Experienced DUI Attorney in Arizona

Driving under the influence of marijuana is a serious charge, whether you are facing probation, fines, license suspension, jail time, or other consequences. If convicted, your ability to obtain employment may be limited, insurance premiums will rise, and harsher punishments will be given if convicted again. It is imperative to get in contact with an experienced local attorney who will evaluate your case, explain your options, and protect your rights.

Contact The Nava Law Firm, PLLC to discuss the best way to proceed with your case.

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