Following the passage of Proposition 207 (Prop 207
), marijuana use is now legal for adults over 21 years of age in Arizona. However, driving under the influence (DUI) laws still prohibit driving while impaired by any substance. Marijuana DUI cases are complex and there are many different factors that can influence the outcome.
Here are some facts to know about marijuana DUI laws:
ARS 28-1381 and Marijuana DUI
Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-1381
defines DUI in the state and lists criteria for a conviction. Two of these are relevant for marijuana DUI. The first is ARS 28-1381 (A)(1). This states that is illegal to operate or be in control of a vehicle if a person was "impaired to the slightest degree" by alcohol, drugs, and/or a vapor-releasing substance. Under ARS 28-1381 (B), legal use of a drug is not a defense for the charges in this section.
Another way a person can be convicted of DUI is if they operated or were in control of a vehicle "while there is any drug defined in [ARS] 13-3401
or its metabolite in the person's body" (ARS 28-1381 (A)(3)). This statute lists the types of drugs
under Arizona law and includes marijuana. However, various legal precedents influence the interpretation of this section.
Does Prop 207 Change Marijuana DUI Laws?
Prop 207 specifically states that it will remain illegal for a person to operate or be in control of a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. Additionally, the smell of marijuana will still be reasonable suspicion for DUI arrests.
Marijuana DUI Legal Precedents
There are several legal precedents that are relevant to marijuana DUI cases.
Two cases to be aware of are:
State v Shilgevorkyan
was decided by the Supreme Court of Arizona in April 2014. The ruling was that secondary metabolites that do not cause impairment are not evidence for a violation of ARS 28-1381 (A)(3). Specifically, the metabolite in question was Carboxy-THC, which can remain in someone's system for up to 30 days after drug use.
Dobson v McClennen
The Court of Appeals of Arizona, Division 1 decided Dobson v McClennen
in November 2014. The decision was that holding a medical marijuana
card is not a sufficient defense for DUI. However, legal marijuana users can demonstrate that the concentration of marijuana in their blood test was not sufficient to cause impairment.
Fighting Marijuana DUI Charges
Marijuana DUI is complex and various Arizona statutes as well as case law govern this legal issue. If you are facing charges, then you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.
marijuana DUI Charges? contact us today for a free consultation.