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How Can I be Convicted of Driving Under the Influence if I am Not Under the Influence?

Posted by Rachelle Ferraro | Aug 02, 2013 | 0 Comments

Well, if You're In Arizona, You Can

Arizona DUI laws can be broken down into three categories of behavior they are geared toward prohibiting.

  1. Driving while your ability to drive a vehicle is impaired by Alcohol and/or Drugs;
  2. Driving with a blood or breath alcohol concentration in excess of a defined limit; and
  3. Driving while you have a drug/medication or remnants of the drug/medication (its metabolite) in your body

The third category does not require that you be impaired at all from the drug, which can include prescription medication.  If you have a valid prescription from a licensed doctor and you can prove that you have taken the prescription medication exactly as prescribed, you may have a defense to the third category.  That defense will not apply to protect you from a charge of DUI if you are impaired to drive as a result of the medication and/or drug.

In theory, that sounds fair.  We want to keep our roads safe from persons who are impaired and therefore dangerous.  In practice, however, the DUI laws in Arizona do not always work that way. Instead, they can sometimes punish innocent, unsuspecting persons.

The metabolites of marijuana can remain in a person's system for days, weeks, or even a month after ingestion. Those metabolites are inactive and not affecting or impairing a person. People can legally ingest marijuana on vacation in Colorado, Washington state or even in Amsterdam and can return to Arizona to find themselves charged with and convicted of DUI for having the remnants of that marijuana (its inactive metabolites) still in their system up to one month later.

Arizona has no defense for persons who are unimpaired but driving while there are remnants in their body of marijuana or other regulated drugs/medications that were legally ingested in locations with different laws that perhaps did not require "prescriptions." Yet the legislature and the prosecuting agencies in Arizona do not seem to care and the prosecutions continue.

If you are facing a DUI Drug Prosecution in Arizona, make sure you speak with speak with an aggressive criminal defense attorney experienced in handling DUIs.

Source: Arizona Republic, "Time to Legalize Fairness", EJ Montini, August 1, 2013.

About the Author

Rachelle Ferraro

Rachelle S. Ferraro, originally from New Jersey, is the daughter of an Italian immigrant. She obtained her college degree in Political Science with a concentration in Constitutional Law at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and her Juris Doctor at the University of Arizona before settling down in Phoenix. She has practiced criminal defense since 1998 and is certified as a Criminal Law Specialist by the Arizona State Bar Board of Legal Specialization.

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