Articles Posted in Marijuana

In January, several Arizona dispensaries began selling marijuana to legal adults who do not have a medical marijuana card. The move came after voters approved Arizona marijuana sales. Motorists must understand that despite the legalization of recreational marijuana, they may still be arrested and charged with an Arizona DUI. Notwithstanding the presumed increase of Arizonans consuming marijuana, the State reports a decrease in the overall number of drug-related DUI arrests. However, the director of Arizona’s Governor’s Office of Highway Safety stated that the numbers might be slightly misleading because the data is incomplete.

In Arizona, the State can charge and prosecute individuals for DUI drugs under two main statutes, ARS §28-1381(A)(1) and ARS §28-1381(A)(3). Under the first statute, it is illegal for an individual to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of any alcohol, drug or inhalant. A charge under this statute may occur when the motorist is impaired to the “slightest degree.” The second statute provides that it is illegal for one to drive a motorized vehicle under the influence of any drug or its metabolite. This statute encompasses substances such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and prescription medications being used illegally. Under the statute, a person does not need to exhibit actual impairment; instead, they may be guilty by solely having the drug or its metabolite in their system.

Although marijuana and its THC component are legal to use recreationally, issues may arise if the person exhibits even slight impairment. Arizonans may not need to present a medical marijuana card to defend themselves against certain DUI charges, but they may still face impairment charges. Many charges stemming from marijuana DUIs may hinge on whether someone is too impaired or high to drive. Issues often arise because, unlike alcohol, marijuana requires a blood test. However, where alcohol tends to metabolize quickly and goes away within a matter of hours, marijuana and its accompanying THC may remain in one’s system for days after the effects have dissipated.

Over the past decade, there has been a shift in society’s attitude towards marijuana. As a result, many states have legalized medical marijuana, decriminalized possession of a small amount of marijuana, and even legalized recreational use of marijuana. According to a recent news report, a 2020 ballot initiative in Arizona seeks to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Often, this raises questions about how Arizona DUI law will be impacted.

Under the new ballot initiative, recreational marijuana would be legalized for adults over the age of 21. The law would regulate where cannabis could be smoked, and also continues to make it illegal to operate a vehicle, boat, or airplane while “impaired even to the slightest degree.”

How the criminal justice system answers the question of when someone is “impaired” by marijuana is going to be critical to the fair enforcement of the state’s DUI laws. Even for a casual smoker, marijuana can stay in their system for weeks after use. However, any mind-altering effects of the drug wear off after just a few hours. Thus, it is possible that someone could smoke marijuana at night, get up to go to work, get pulled over on the way for an unrelated traffic offense, and be arrested for DUI. Certainly, this is not the intent of lawmakers who hoped to allow the responsible use of marijuana and only criminalize those who drive while actually impaired.

In the state of Arizona, it is illegal to use or possess marijuana, sell or distribute marijuana, produce marijuana, and transport marijuana. It’s also illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana. The state has stiff penalties against people who violate marijuana DUI laws, which is why having a Phoenix, AZ defense attorney is crucial.

We’d like to consider some of the financial penalties associated with marijuana DUI charges so you understand the difficulties ahead. It will reinforce the importance of having a skilled lawyer by your side to help reduce or drop the charges against you.

Arizona Laws on Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

There is currently a nationwide discussion about the legality of marijuana. While the federal government continues to debate whether or not marijuana is legal, the state of Arizona has very strict laws regarding purchase, possession, and use of the substance. Only people with medical marijuana card can obtain small amounts of marijuana from approved dispensaries.

While some people may legally obtain and use marijuana in the state, Arizona still does not have a proper means of testing for pot in a driver’s system. The entire country is struggling with this issue. Marijuana DUI law is still evolving given the country’s changing attitudes toward marijuana. With that in mind, our legal office serving the Phoenix, AZ area would like to consider some of the current issues related to field sobriety tests to detect marijuana use.

About Field Sobriety Tests

Here at The Law Office of James Novak, we take all legal matters seriously. This includes current laws on the books as well as new laws that are being proposed. Both can have an affect on DUI defense and legal strategies, whether the charge involves alcohol or other controlled substances.

For example, a ballot initiative involving recreational marijuana use may have a major impact on motorists who are pulled over with THC in their system. Let’s look a the basics of the new law and then see how it can impact DUI cases.

Background on the Recreational Marijuana Use Ballot Measure

While marijuana is also a controlled substance and it's illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, the laws related to marijuana DUI will differ from traditional drunk driving laws. There is a matter of use of an illicit substance to consider on top of potential possession as well as driving while under the influence of this controlled substance.

At The Law Office of James Novak, we are committed to helping the people of Phoenix get a fair shake from the law. We offer drunk driving and drug DUI defense, and want to make sure the system is fair rather than stacked against the people. There are many factors to consider when it comes to marijuana penalties during a DUI arrest. Let's cover some of the basics so you understand how serious these cases can be.

Marijuana Possession Penalties

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