Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona DUI case affirming the defendant’s conviction. The case involved the defendant’s challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence presented by the prosecution and used by the jury to convict him. Ultimately, the court concluded that the evidence was sufficient, and the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, a police officer noticed that the defendant’s car had a burnt-out headlight and a crooked license plate. The officer pulled the defendant over and, upon approaching the car, noticed that the defendant had bloodshot, watery eyes, groggy speech, and seemed lethargic. When asked for his driver’s license, the defendant provided the officer with an Arizona ID card. At this point, the officer noticed that the defendant had a medical marijuana card.
The officer asked the defendant if there was marijuana in the car, and the defendant indicated there was. According to the officer, the defendant admitted to smoking marijuana earlier that day. The defendant agreed to perform field sobriety tests, but expressed concern that the bullet in his hip could impact his ability to perform the tests. After the trooper determined that the defendant exhibited signs of impairment while performing the tests, the officer arrested the defendant for driving under the influence of marijuana.
At trial, both the prosecution and the defense presented expert witnesses. The prosecution witness noted that there were 3.6 nanograms of THC in the defendant’s blood, and that this amount could impact his ability to drive. The defense expert disagreed, explaining that there was no way to say that such a low level of THC would affect the defendant’s driving. Ultimately, after the judge denied the defendant’s motion for a directed verdict, the jury convicted the defendant.
The defendant appealed, arguing that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction. The defendant argued that, because he had a medical marijuana card, the prosecution had to show that he was actually intoxicated from marijuana, and not just that he had some of the drug in his system. The defendant also pointed out that there was no evidence of unsafe driving, and that there was an explanation for his performance of the field sobriety tests.
The court, however, rejected the defendant’s arguments and affirmed his conviction. The court explained that the defendant bore the burden to prove that the marijuana in his system did not affect his driving. Here, the court noted that the defendant’s expert could not say “one way or the other” if the 3.6 nanograms of THC was enough to impair the defendant’s driving. On the other hand, the prosecution’s expert claimed that such a level could result in impaired driving. The court explained that, if the jury credited the prosecution’s expert’s testimony, the evidence would be sufficient. Thus, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.
Have You Been Arrested for an Arizona DUI?
If you have recently been arrested for an Arizona DUI offense, contact Attorney James E. Novak for immediate assistance. Attorney Novak is a veteran DUI defense attorney with extensive experience handling all types of DUI cases, including those involving medical marijuana cardholders. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 480-413-1499.