As Adam Longo reports for CBS 5 News in Arizona, and as we wrote earlier
describing the "tension" between
DUI law in Arizona as it relates to marijuana use, one defense lawyer is raising an issue that is probably necessary to
achieving justice for people who are pulled over and accused of driving
under the influence of marijuana.
Longo quotes the defense attorney:
"The courts are supposed to interpret statutes as to avoid absurd
results. It's possible in Arizona to be convicted of
DUI when, in fact, a blood test proves a person is not impaired."
So how could this be?
Given that Arizona has legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes,
people can legitimately use marijuana in this state to treat symptoms
of illness and get pain relief. But evidence of use stays in the body
long after the effects have worn off.
The way the DUI law is written here, you can actually get convicted of
DUI if a blood test shows that you've got either the active or the
inactive ingredients of marijuana in your system. Here's the rub:
the active ingredient is what gets you "high," while the inactive
ingredient doesn't. Yet the law supports conviction based on both
the active and inactive ingredients.
And the inactive ingredient stays in your system for weeks after use.
That means you're not actually under the influence when you were pulled
over, arrested, and charged (provided that you haven't used marijuana
very recently and/or haven't been drinking).
As Phoenix criminal defense lawyers, it's particularly hard to hear
when people make comments that defense lawyers work to "get criminals
off," when the reality is that whether or not someone is a "criminal"
has nothing to do with whether or not a law is fair and just.
Attorney: Arizona marijuana DUI law is 'absurd'