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Arizona's Zero-Tolerance Policy-Medical Marijuana

Arizona's Zero-Tolerance Policy-Medical Marijuana

If you have a valid medical marijuana card and are pulled over, you may end up being charged with DUI because of Arizona’s zero-tolerance policy when it comes to driving and using marijuana. Even with a valid medical marijuana card and no signs of impairment, you can be charged with a DUI if your blood or urine test comes back positive for either the active or inactive metabolite of marijuana.

On February 12, 2013, the Arizona Court of Appeals overturned a Justice Court Judge’s ruling dismissing the case in State v. Shilgeverkyan. The Defendant in this matter was charged with DUI-Drugs in the Arcadia Justice Court. The active metabolite (THC) was not present in the Defendant’s blood, however the inactive metabolite was. The Justice Court Judge agreed with the defense in this matter that the law only applies to the active metabolite that makes a person high. The Maricopa County Superior Court upheld this decision and the case went before the Arizona Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals determined that as Arizona Revised Statute §28-1381(A)(3) states it is “unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in this state…while there is any drug defined in 13-3401 or its metabolite in the person’s body.” This includes the inactive metabolite of marijuana that may be in a person’s system for weeks after use. The dismissal in this case was overturned.

The usual defense for a DUI-Drugs charge is that a person has a valid prescription for the drugs that were in their system. However, this defense does not apply in Arizona because a person cannot be prescribed marijuana. A doctor can qualify a patient for a medical marijuana card allowing the patient to purchase and possess marijuana as it is recommended by a doctor. However, until the law changes, a valid medical marijuana card will not keep you from being charged with a DUI if you have marijuana or any of its metabolites in your system.

The consequences of being convicted of a marijuana DUI are harsh. They include, but are not limited to jail time, license revocation, fines and drug classes. However, despite the technical language in the marijuana DUI statute, our firm has experience beating marijuana DUI cases which helps our clients avoid the harsh penalties of a conviction. If you have been charged with marijuana DUI, contact our office at 480.889.8909 for your free consultation.


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