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Tag Archives: DUI Drugs

Even though recreational possession and use of marijuana remains illegal in Arizona, it has been legalized in the neighboring states of California, Nevada, and Colorado. The possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes in Arizona is perfectly legal though for patients who qualify and are approved for it. What comes to issue for medical marijuana patients are Arizona’s impaired driving laws. It’s illegal to drive impaired in the state when under the influence of marijuana. A conviction is equivalent in seriousness as driving under the influence of alcohol.

Marijuana and Driving Under the Influence Laws

As per ARS 28-1381 (A)(3), a driver could be found guilty of DUI Drugs if he or she is determined to have been driving or was in actual physical control of a vehicle and was “impaired to the slightest degree” by any drug or its metabolite. That’s equivalent to a “zero tolerance” law. Under ARS section 13-3401, the definition of drugs includes marijuana. As per the Arizona Supreme Court, actual physical control is defined as having “current or imminent control” over the vehicle and presenting a “real danger” to yourself or the public. Current or imminent control over a motor vehicle is determined by a totality of the facts and circumstances surrounding a case.

Supreme Court of Arizona v. Hon. Harris (Shilgevorkyn) Case

On December 11, 2010, at about 10:30 p.m., Hrach Shilgevorkyn was stopped by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department for allegedly speeding and making an illegal lane change. Police believed that Shilgevorkyan might have been impaired, and he was asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests. After performing the tests, Shilgevorkyan said that he had smoked “weed” the night before. He was not using it for medical purposes. He was asked to submit to blood tests which he voluntarily submitted to shortly after midnight. It was determined that carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol (carboxy-THC) was in his blood sample. Our criminal defense attorney from DM Cantor represented Shilgevorkyan against these dui charges. What the case turned on was whether Carboxy-THC was an impairing metabolite. In a four to one decision, the Arizona Supreme Court determined that it was not. Here is a summary of the court’s decision and rationale. It focused on the interpretation of section 28-1381(A)(3).

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There has been a large increase of DUI for drug cases over the last decade in the State of Arizona. Even if you aren’t under the influence of alcohol while operating your vehicle, you can still be charged with a DUI (Driving under the influence) if you are under the influence of drugs or controlled substances. If you’re convicted of the DUI drug case, serious consequences will most likely occur but there are many ways that an attorney can fight these cases.

So what is a DUI with Drugs charge? Under the Arizona Revised Statutes 28-1381, the law states that if an individual is driving or is in actual physical control of a vehicle “while under the influence of any drug, vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance, and any combination of alcohol and drugs and they are impaired to the slightest degree” or “If any controlled substance is found in their body” they may be convicted with a drug DUI offense.

Some of the most common types of drugs defined that may result in a drug DUI charge are marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, amphetamines, nitrous oxide, psilocybin mushrooms, ecstasy, or opiates such as, hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, and heroin. Basically any type of intoxicating drug can result in a drug DUI charge. Drug DUI charges can also be known as: Metabolite DUI, Weed DUI, THC DUI, or Pot DUI.

When you are pulled over and a law enforcement official suspects that you may be under the influence of drugs, they will almost always conduct a field sobriety test. These tests may include the heel-to-toe test, the finger-to-nose test, a one leg stand, alphabet recitation, or an eye test called the “horizontal gaze nystagmus” test. If they suspect you are under the influence, they may also ask for you to submit a blood chemical or urine test. There are times when it is wise to take these tests and there are times when it is best to refuse these tests. An attorney can offer legal advice for these types of scenarios.

DUI Drug offenses can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony but first time offenders with no accident involved are typically charged with a misdemeanor. The presumptive sentence of a first time offender according to Arizona Revised Statutes section 13.707 is six months in jail and/or fines of no less than $250. There are also court fees and drug education classes that may be involved in the sentencing. People accepting plea bargains and those with lawyer representation normally get reduced sentences with some or all jail time being suspended, which it is wise to seek legal representation.

Because the mere presence of controlled substances in your system is enough to charge you for a drug DUI offense, it is usually wise to seek legal advice. Attorneys can often help get these charges dropped or sentences reduced because there are many factors that may need to be determined for a conviction.

If you live in Arizona and would like a free consultation on a DUI charge, please call our offices at (602) 307-0808 to schedule your appointment. We can also be reached via email by using our secure confidential form.

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