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.