Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Arizona

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Driving under the influence of marijuana is a crime in Arizona.  This article explains the penalties imposed for DUI violations, but other laws regarding marijuana possession may also apply to the driver and passengers. Also, while Arizona allows medical marijuana use under limited circumstances, it is still a crime to drive after such use, as explained below.

For more on the medical usage allowed, see Arizona Medical Marijuana Laws.

For more information about Arizona's marijuana laws concerning possession, sale, and distribution, see Arizona Marijuana Laws.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Marijuana

It is unlawful to drive a vehicle (1) while under the influence of any substance that impairs the driver’s mental or physical faculties or (2) while there is any drug or its metabolite in the person’s body. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 28-1381.) This means that the mere presence of a drug in the driver’s body is grounds for a DUI charge, regardless of whether the driver is actually impaired.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence

Penalties vary according to whether it’s a first or subsequent conviction, as follows:

  • First conviction. At least 10 days in jail and fines of at least $1,250. Additional penalties may include required participation in a drug treatment program, license suspension, community service, probation for up to five years, or being ordered to attach an ignition interlock device to the driver’s vehicle.
  • Second conviction (within 84 months). At least 90 days in jail (30 days of which is not eligible for probation or suspension of sentence), fines of at least $3,000, at least 30 hours of community service, license suspension for one year, and the requirement of attaching an ignition interlock device to the driver’s vehicle. Additional penalties may include required participation in a drug treatment program or additional probation.
  • Third or subsequent conviction (within seven years, with suspended license, or under certain other circumstances enumerated by law). At least four months in prison, fines of up to $150,000, license suspension for three years, probation for up to five years. Additional penalties may include forfeiture of vehicle or required participation in a drug treatment program. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 28-1381, 28-1383.)

Additional penalties apply if a child (under the age of 15) was in the vehicle at the time of the offense.

Implied Consent to Drug Test

Anyone operating a vehicle in Arizona is deemed to have given consent to a test to determine the presence of a controlled substance. Refusal to submit to the test may result in a driver’s license suspension for 12 months. Evidence of refusal is admissible in any legal action or proceeding. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 28-1321, 28-1387.)

Getting Legal Help

If you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense, you face the possibility of jail time, fines, and other consequences. To know how your case is likely to be handled by the prosecutor and the local judges, you’ll need to consult an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney. Only someone who is familiar with the local treatment of cases like yours can advise you on the best way to proceed.

by: , Contributing Author

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