Court Rejects Defendant’s Attempt to Admit Medical Marijuana Card into Evidence in Recent Arizona DUI Case

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona DUI case discussing the defendant’s claim that the court improperly prevented him from presenting his medical marijuana card to the jury. Because the prosecution withdrew the charge of driving under the influence of drugs, and proceeded only with the DUI-alcohol charge, the court determined that defendant’s medical marijuana card was irrelevant. As a result of the court’s opinion, the defendant’s DUI conviction was upheld.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was allegedly driving erratically when he slammed into the rear of another vehicle. After the accident, the defendant pulled over to the side of the road and slumped over the wheel. Responding officers believed the defendant to be under the influence of alcohol, a finding that was confirmed after the defendant’s blood indicated the presence of alcohol and marijuana.

Initially, the defendant was charged with various crimes, including two counts of DUI. The first count was based on driving while under the influence of alcohol, and the second for driving under the influence of marijuana. Before trial, the prosecution withdrew the charge pertaining to the defendant’s marijuana use and asked the court to preclude the defendant from presenting his Arizona Medical Marijuana Act card (AMMA card).

The defendant argued that his AMMA card was relevant because it would inform the jury that he had not illegally used marijuana; however, the court granted the prosecution’s motion. The jury found the defendant guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol, and the defendant appealed the court’s ruling prohibiting the introduction of his AMMA card.

The Appellate Court’s Decision

On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s granting of the prosecution’s motion to prohibit introducing the defendant’s AMMA card. The court first noted that the defendant was not charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, and that there was “overwhelming” evidence that the defendant was impaired by alcohol. The court acknowledged that the AMMA card may have been relevant to the marijuana DUI charge. However, the court explained that the AMMA card would not have justified the defendant driving under the influence of marijuana, only his use of marijuana. Ultimately, the court held that – regardless of the propriety of the lower court’s ruling – the defendant could not show any prejudice from the court’s decision to keep the AMMA card out of evidence.

Have You Been Arrested for an Arizona DUI Offense?

If you have recently been arrested or an Arizona drunk driving offense, contact Attorney James Novak for immediate assistance. Attorney Novak is a veteran Tempe criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling all types of DUI offenses, including those based on DUI checkpoints, traffic stops, car accidents, and more. Whether this is your first DUI arrest, or you have been convicted of DUI in the past, Attorney Novak can help you defend against the accusations you are facing so you can move on with your life. To learn more, call 480-413-1499 to schedule a free consultation today.

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