Even if you are not truly “impaired,” it is possible to be convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of marijuana in Arizona. If THC is found in your blood, you could be sentenced to jail for up to six months for a misdemeanor Phoenix DUI offense, have to pay significant fines and fees and lose your driver’s license for up to one year. It hardly sounds fair, but this is the law.
Suzuki Law Offices defends people charged with marijuana-related DUI offenses in Arizona. We are experienced and knowledgeable and determined to obtain the best possible outcome for every client. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs, the attorneys at Suzuki Law Offices are ready to fight for you.
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Arizona’s Zero-Tolerance Marijuana DUI Laws
While it may be legal in other states to use marijuana recreationally or medically right here in our state, Arizona, drivers have to deal with what is effectively a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of marijuana. The active chemical in marijuana – THC, the chemical that produces the “high” – has a limited shelf life. THC will diminish and leave a person’s system the same day. Arizona law states that the presence of metabolites – the stuff that stays in the bloodstream for weeks after using marijuana – will be enough to get you charged with DUI and possibly even convicted, even though you weren’t impaired.
Why is this? It boils down to how an Arizona appeals court ruled: “We determined that the legislative ban extends to all substances, whether capable of causing impairment or not.” Even though Arizona allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes if evidence exists that you smoked marijuana at any point, even though the effects wore off long ago, you’re at risk of a DUI conviction.
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What If I Have a Medical Marijuana Card in Arizona?
The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) was passed in 2010, allowing qualifying patients to possess and use a certain amount of cannabis. While this may be an affirmative defense to marijuana DUI charges – if you can prove that the level of metabolites in your system was not enough to cause impairment – the law clearly states that medical marijuana patients are not immune from Arizona’s DUI laws. Thus, you may still find yourself in a sticky situation.
Arizona is one of three states that has both a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to driving under the influence of marijuana and a law that legalizes the use of medical marijuana. So, even if you have the smallest amount of cannabis in your system when you are pulled over by law enforcement, there is a good chance you will face criminal charges.
How to Protect Your Rights During a Marijuana DUI Stop
If you are suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana, it is important to know your rights.
- Don’t admit to using marijuana – Even if you are stopped on suspicion of DUI, you should avoid saying anything incriminating to the police. It is your right to remain silent; you should exercise this right immediately.
- Don’t take the field sobriety tests – You are not legally obligated to take field sobriety tests. So, if the officer asks, politely decline. However, you will be required to take a blood or urine test if you are arrested for DUI.
- Contact an attorney immediately – If you have been arrested for DUI, you should first contact a lawyer. Don’t assume you can talk out of the situation; you may make things worse.
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The Penalties for a Drug-Related DUI Conviction
If you are caught driving under the influence of drugs, you will be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor—which is also the case for an alcohol-related DUI offense. This crime is punishable by a mandatory jail term of 10 consecutive days.
You could also face the following penalties for a drug-related DUI offense:
- Up to six months in jail (minimum 10-day term)
- Over $2,000 in various fines and court fees
- A 90-day driver’s license suspension
- Installation of an ignition interlock device
- Alcohol or drug education/treatment program
How to Fight Your Marijuana DUI Charges
Our attorneys are former prosecutors who now defend people charged with drug and alcohol-related DUIs. We understand the many possible defenses in these cases and how to challenge the state’s assertions. As in regular DUI cases, several defense strategies could result in a dismissal of the charge or reduction to a non-DUI driving offense.
There are several possible defenses against marijuana DUI charges, which may include:
- Lack of probable cause for law enforcement to stop your vehicle
- Lack of probable cause for law enforcement to continue the investigation
- Lack of admissible blood or urine tests / no clear chain of custody
- Failure of law enforcement to follow proper procedure when arresting you
- Failure of law enforcement to advise you of your Miranda rights
If a viable defense strategy exists in your case, we will find it. The Phoenix marijuana DUI lawyers at Suzuki Law Offices have extensive experience in drug crime cases, including those that involve driving under the influence. If you have been charged with DUI or a related crime like marijuana possession, you can turn to us for an aggressive defense.
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At Suzuki Law Offices, our Phoenix marijuana DUI lawyers can immediately respond to your call for help, review your case at no cost to you, and determine how we can assist. We have already helped hundreds of clients protect their rights, freedoms, and futures after being charged with serious crimes in Arizona, and now we are ready to do the same for you.