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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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With the recent approval of the Medical Marijuana program in Arizona there are a lot of questions out there regarding Marijuana and DUI charges. One of the questions we get asked a lot is ‘Can I get a DUI in Arizona with a Medical Marijuana card?‘ David Cantor answers this question in the short video below:

So, can I get a DUI in Arizona with a Medical Marijuana Card?

Yes, under Arizona law the important thing is ‘are you impaired by the drug’. If you are found to be impaired, you can be arrested for a Drug DUI.

If you have a drug in your system and don’t have a prescription, you are looking at a DUI with a metabolite of an illegal or illicit drug in your system.

If you have a medical marijuana card, you can still be charged with DUI if the officer thinks you are impaired by the marijuana.

Now there has been some debate, with marijuana there are two types of metabolites, active and inactive. Active metabolites effect your brain and would make you impaired to drive, in this instance you would have just smoked marijuana or have smoked it within the last couple of hours.

Inactive metabolites show up a day or two after you’ve smoked and will also show up in your urine up to 30 days later. The inactive metabolite is the one that can get you arrested for DUI if you do not have a medical marijuana card.

But if you do have the card, there are arguments you can make that you were not impaired at the time of arrest and there is an actual defense to the Marijuana DUI charge. So if you have gotten a DUI for Marijuana and have your Medical Marijuana Card, call us at (602) 307-0808 because we can help you. For more information regarding a Drug DUI in Arizona, click here.

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