With rules loosening around the country regarding medical and recreational marijuana use, you may be wondering what the consequences are for using and operating under the influence of the substance. Marijuana use is still against federal law and prohibited in most states, including Arizona. The state approved medical marijuana use by a narrow margin in 2010, but all the same, rules regarding DUI apply. Learn what might happen after a DUI arrest in Arizona.
No “Legal Limit” For Marijuana Use
Marijuana is still an illegal substance without a doctor’s prescription, and there is no safe or legal established limit for its use. An officer can charge you with marijuana DUI if:
- You are under the influence of marijuana to any degree that impairs your physical or mental faculties
- You have any amount of the drug or metabolite in your body
Under Arizona law, the presence of this drug in the body is enough to charge you with a DUI, whether you’re impaired or not.
An officer can request testing for THC concentration in your blood. If there is any measurable amount in your system, he or she may charge you with a DUI. If you refuse, an officer can also lawfully charge you.
Punishments for DUI in Arizona
DUI punishments for marijuana are the same as operating under the influence of alcohol or any other drug. The nature of the punishment will depend on the circumstances and your prior history. In general:
- A conviction of a first DUI carries a penalty of at least 10 days in jail and fines totaling at least $1,250. In addition, you may also face license suspension, probation, installation of an ignition interlock device, community service, or probation.
- If you receive a second DUI within 84 months of the first conviction, you could face at least 90 days in jail and fines of at least $3,000. Additional penalties such as license suspension, ignition interlock device, community service, and probation may apply, as well as completion of a drug program.
- Any subsequent convictions within a seven-year period or with a suspended license will carry a penalty of at least four months in prison and fines totaling up to $150,000. You may also invoke additional penalties such as three years’ license suspension, probation totaling five years, mandatory completion of a drug treatment program, and more.
Possible Defenses to Marijuana DUIs in Arizona
A DUI in Arizona can lead to serious consequences. The penalties for operating under the influence are steep, and officers and prosecutors have a lot of liberty in charging these types of cases. However, several possible defenses exist, and an Arizona defense attorney can help you examine your options. Retaining the services of an experienced Phoenix DUI attorney is one of the best ways to protect your future.
The state of Arizona has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country. If charged with a DUI, a conviction could radically alter the course of your life. Aside from the monetary and criminal punishments involved, a DUI could affect insurance rates, your livelihood, even your ability to get or keep a job.
Many states use urinalysis to prove marijuana DUI. One of the main problems with proving marijuana DUI is that THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, can remain in a user’s urine for a week or more. As such, an officer may legally charge you with a DUI even if you are not actually impaired. He or she may use other evidence, such as erratic lane changes, to establish reasonable cause, but this may serve as a possible defense to a DUI charge.