The Arizona Supreme Court just ruled that people who hold a valid medical marijuana card and have been arrested for DUI can argue that there is an insufficient amount of THC, or the impairing metabolite in their system as a defense. This is an important decision because it gives patients a legitimate defense if they are being prosecuted for DUI as a result of their using medical marijuana.
The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act allows people to possess and use limited amounts of medical marijuana if they have been diagnosed by a doctor as having a debilitating medical condition and they obtain a card identifying themselves as a registered and qualifying patient. Although marijuana cardholders in Arizona cannot be prosecuted for simply possessing and using marijuana, they are subject to prosecution for DUI. Medical marijuana cardholders can be charged with DUI if they are alleged to be impaired to drive an automobile, known as the "A1" charge or alternatively, if they are proven to be operating a vehicle with an illegal drug or metabolite in their system. This latter charge, commonly referred to by DUI lawyers as the "A3" charge is dependent upon the results of a blood or urine test. Unfortunately, most medical marijuana users will consistently have a marijuana metabolite in their system and be at risk of being charged with DUI since they regularly use marijuana as permitted by their card.
Unlike marijuana, people cannot be charged with DUI involving an illegal drug in their system if they are using the drug as prescribed by a licensed medical professional. In medical marijuana cases, the marijuana is not technically prescribed by a physician. Instead, patients are given authorization to ingest the marijuana in limited quantities. This technicality, or the difference between "prescription" and "authorization" permits police and prosecutors to pursue DUI charges against medical marijuana cardholders.
Fortunately, there is now hope. Specifically, people who have a valid Arizona medical marijuana card can defend against a DUI charge by showing the concentration of marijuana or THC in their system was not enough to cause impairment. This is extremely beneficial as most marijuana DUI cases resulted in a conviction right after a prosecutor showed that there was an active marijuana metabolite in a driver's system. Nothing else was required. Now, we can argue that the amount of marijuana found in your blood or urine was so low that it could not have impaired your ability to drive. In support of this new found defense we can examine the results of your blood or urine tests, show that your driving behavior was not bad and point to your strong performance on various field tests such as the HGN (eye test), Walk and Turn or One Leg Stand as proof that you were not impaired.
If you are a medical marijuana cardholder and have been charged with DUI in Arizona, call me at (480) 833-8613 immediately for a free consultation and case evaluation. I have successfully defended DUI cases throughout Arizona for the last twenty years and will use this new affirmative defense to your advantage. There is no reason to accept a DUI conviction if you have been stopped by police despite having a valid medical marijuana card.
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