Marijuana DUI Laws in Arizona

marijuana dui laws in arizonaWe know that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act was passed in 2010. Since then, many people with certain illnesses have been eligible to receive medical marijuana. However, a person must obtain a medical marijuana certification form filled out by their doctor before they can receive an MMJ card allowing them to purchase marijuana. If they do receive the certification from a doctor, a person is allowed to hold up to 2.5 ounces of the drug or have 12 marijuana plants if not located near a dispensary.

With medical marijuana legal in the state, what happens if you get pulled over and are suspected of a DUI? We know that there are many reasons a person may get pulled over with an officer suspecting they may be impaired. You could be reaching for something in the seat next to you. Maybe you just drifted a bit. That does not mean you are impaired. A perfectly sober person can swerve their vehicle.

A Look At The Laws

In Arizona, a person can be charged with DUI for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of any illegal substance, or any substance that impairs a person’s ability to operate the vehicle. We want to take a moment and look at two Arizona laws that deal with DUI charges and drugs, both of which can cause some confusion concerning medical marijuana.

  • R.S. 28-1381(A)(1) states that it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.
  • R.S. 28-1381(A) states that it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while there is any drug defined in section 13-3401 or its metabolite in the person’s body. Drugs defined under section 13-3401 include most drugs that are illegal to possess.

Looking at those statutes, can you see where there may be a problem? While an officer may have no problem with you having marijuana on your person (provided you have your MMJ card), they may suspect you are under the influence of the drug. A.R.S. 28-1381(A)(1) would allow that officer to arrest you because it says they can “if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.”

Fine, but you know you have not smoked or ingested marijuana in a while and certainly are not impaired. Let’s look a little bit closer to the language of A.R.S. 28-1381(A) which says that it is unlawful to operate a vehicle “while there is any drug defined in section 13-3401 or its metabolite in the person’s body.”

Marijuana stays in a person’s system well after the effect of the drug have worn off. Even if a person has used the drug weeks before, they may still test positive for it and be charged with a DUI.

What do you do if you were completely sober when you were pulled over but still found yourself in the back of a police car under arrest for DUI?

What Are Your Options?

If this has happened to you then the time to seek legal assistance is now. You need a qualified and experienced attorney who understands both Arizona’s DUI laws and medical marijuana laws. The key to putting up a good defense is to make sure you have someone on your side who will go over every detail of the case, from the original traffic stop to the testing that followed to make the determination you were impaired.  Click here for information medical marijuana cardholders and dui in Arizona.