Arizona has extremely strong drugged driving laws. There are two ways in which motorists within the state may be charged with DUI under the current laws. The first charge may be handed down if the driver is found to be impaired to the slightest degree by a substance. The second charge may result if the motorist has the presence of any specifically listed drug is present in the person’s system while he or she is operating a motor vehicle.
The drugs that are listed in the statutes include medical marijuana. Those who have prescriptions under the drug could potentially be charged with DUI simply for having trace amounts of marijuana present in their systems. This led to some uncertainty in how to apply DUI charges to medical marijuana users. However, a recent decision by the Arizona Supreme Court might change the way these cases are handled.
This case concerns two drivers who were arrested for drugged driving due to the use of medical marijuana. The motorists faced two charges: one for being impaired to the slightest degree while driving, and one for having the presence of drugs in their system while behind the wheel.
Both drivers had medical marijuana cards, and they contended that the state’s medical marijuana laws provided them with immunity from DUI charges. The court analyzed the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and ruled that the law did not specifically grant immunity from DUI charges to medical marijuana users.
Instead, the court decided that a medical marijuana card allowed motorists to present an affirmative defense to the DUI charges concerning impairment. This means that if the drivers had a legal prescription to use the drug, they could show that the amount of marijuana in their systems was not enough to cause them to be impaired while behind the wheel.
The DUI convictions of both drivers in this case were ruled to be valid. They did not present any evidence concerning their level of impairment. The court did not establish what a level of impairment might be in these cases, which could cause more problems in the future for medical marijuana users. These individuals build up a greater tolerance to the drug, and it will impact them different than casual users.
Those charged with drugged DUI need to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney needs to understand the difference between drugged driving and normal DUI cases, because there are many complicated issues that must be addressed as soon as possible.