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Traces of marijuana can result in a DUI in the state of Arizona

Posted by Craig Penrod | Nov 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

In the state of Arizona, getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle even weeks after smoking marijuana can result in the possibility of being charged with driving under the influence (DUI).

Current legislation on the books in Arizona allows automobile drivers to be charged with DUI if a blood sample indicates the presence of even a trace amount of Carboxy-THC, a secondary metabolite of marijuana. In order to understand the ramifications of DUI arrests based upon test results that point to the use of marijuana, medical or otherwise, it is important that you should consult experienced Arizona DUI lawyers like those associated with the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C.

It is important to understand that Carboxy-THC can remain in your body for weeks after it is smoked, but it is non-psychoactive, which means that it's unlikely that it can cause any sort of impairment. Despite scientific evidence, a law in the state of Arizona allows anyone whose smoked marijuana, even as much as one month earlier, to be charged with DUI.

The Feb. 12 ruling in Arizona vs. Shilgevorkyan by the Arizona Courts of Appeals said that law enforcement authorities have the right to prosecute the users of marijuana for DUI even when there is no evidence that the driver was actually high at the time of their arrest. The ruling by the Court of Appeals focused on the chemical compounds in marijuana that may be detected in blood and urine tests. The court ruled that these compounds are a violation of Arizona law. Thus, a driver doesn't have to actually be impaired to be prosecuted for DUI. The ruling overturned a ruling by a lower court judge who ruled that the state should not be allowed to prosecute a driver for DUI when there is no evidence of impairment.

In his ruling the lower court judge had pointed to other states that had eased their laws regarding marijuana. The court of appeals ruling dismissed that ruling that medical marijuana law in the state of Arizona is irrelevant regarding DUI. The number of people in the state of Arizona who have been issued medical marijuana cards continues to grow.

The court of appeals ruling also pointed out that the Arizona Legislature had adopted a comprehensive DUI law in order to protect public safety. Thus, a provision on prohibited substances and the chemical compounds that are byproducts should be interpreted broadly to include inactive compounds, as well as active ones.

The case ruled upon by the court of appeals began as a 2010 traffic stop in Maricopa County, which resulted in a blood test which revealed Carboxy-THC, a chemical compound that is found in the blood after another compound, which is produced by ingesting marijuana. Testimony by a prosecution criminalist, suggested that the compound doesn't impair the ability of a person to drive even though it can remain detectable for a period of four weeks.

The Arizona Supreme Court was asked, earlier this month, to review the ruling by the lower court and the subsequent ruling by the court of appeals.

It is important that your DUI legal situation should be handled by expert professionals with the experience possessed by the attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C.

About the Author

Craig Penrod

Craig W. Penrod was born and raised in Arizona and has practiced criminal defense for over 30 years. Mr. Penrod is a member of the State Bar of Arizona, Maricopa County Bar Association, State of Nevada Bar Association, American Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, Nevada Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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