Similar to many other states, marijuana use in Arizona has become much more prevalent since it was approved for medical purposes and subsequently legalized to possess and ingest for recreational use. As a result of its growth in popularity, police in Phoenix and surrounding cities are now constantly on the lookout for drivers who they believe are impaired by marijuana. Consequently, many people find themselves being investigated, arrested and prosecuted for DUI offenses related to their use of marijuana.
What Are The Penalties For A Marijuana DUI In Arizona?
Although you can't be prosecuted for an Extreme or Super Extreme DUI unless alcohol consumption is involved, a marijuana related DUI still carries the potential for very severe penalties. Specifically, a conviction will result in jail, thousands of dollars in fines, mandatory substance abuse classes and a suspension of your drivers license. If your marijuana related DUI represents a second offense, the jail time is substantially increased as is the fines and length of time that your license can be revoked. Finally, a third offense within seven years, a DUI which occurs while your license is suspended or if you were driving on the wrong side of the road, can result in a felony charge and prison sentence.
Are There Defenses To A Marijuana DUI Charge?
If you have been charged with a marijuana related DUI, you should contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. There are many issues involved in defending a marijuana related DUI and an experienced attorney can be invaluable in helping you obtain the best result possible.
Some Potential Defenses Which May Be Asserted Against a Marijuana DUI Include:
- Lack of Driving or Actual Physical Control - Before being detained, prosecuted or arrested for any DUI, police must demonstrate you were actually driving a motor vehicle or at a minimum, were in actual physical control of a car. Actual physical control means that there is an indication that you had the intention or ability to drive. Some indicators of actual physical control include where the vehicle is located, your position in the car and whether the vehicle is running.
2. No Probable Cause to Arrest - Before police can place you under arrest, they must possess probable cause. Evidence of probable cause may include your driving behavior, statements made to the officers, performance on field sobriety tests and any other indicators of alcohol, marijuana or drug use.
3. Improper reliance on Field Sobriety Tests - In most DUI investigations, police will administer a series of roadside tests designed to determine whether a person may be impaired to operate a vehicle. Although the most common field tests such as Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (the "eye test"), the Walk and Turn and One Leg Stand may be reliable in DUI cases involving alcohol, they may not be completely reliable when a driver is only suspected to have ingested marijuana. This is because marijuana does not usually cause any indicators of impairment during the Nystagmus or eye test. Moreover, many studies have shown there is no relationship between marijuana impairment and performance on the other field sobriety tests.
4. Presence of THC in Your Blood or Urine - Obviously, to be prosecuted for a marijuana related DUI, police must show that active THC is present in your system. This will be accomplished by a blood or urine test. However, there are several issues with respect to THC levels and a DUI prosecution. For instance, there is no established THC level which is recognized to cause driving impairment. Additionally, THC can be detected in a person's system long after the effects of marijuana use has subsided. In fact, THC can be detected long after ingestion of marijuana when people are regular users.
5. Violations of Your Constitutional Rights - If police fail to properly advise you of your Miranda warnings prior to being questioned or interfere with your ability to consult with a lawyer during a DUI investigation, important evidence can be suppressed and in extreme cases, the charges may be dismissed.
Call (480) 833-8613 Now for a Free Consultation:
If you, a family member or friend has been arrested for a misdemeanor marijuana DUI offense in Arizona, it is important that you immediately begin working with a qualified DUI attorney who can effectively represent you in the court of law and take necessary steps to protect your driver's license. A DUI offense requires an aggressive and experienced lawyer who can recognize all of the issues and work effectively to achieve a favorable result. Attorney Raymond Kimble will have a clear understanding of all the circumstances in your case, along with the knowledge, skill and experience to obtain the best possible outcome for you.