New DUI Laws Affect Thousands of Arizona Drivers

From time to time, driving laws are amended or changed to reflect changes in society or technology. For example, laws prohibiting texting and talking on cell phones have only come about since the invention of this technology in recent years. According to a new amendment to Arizona vehicle law:

23152(e) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.

What does this mean for drivers in Arizona? Alex Lane, a Phoenix attorney who represents those charged with DUI and other crimes, explains.

Any and All Drugs

What does "any drug" mean in the new law? Theoretically, it means exactly what it says. Drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle after ingesting anything that has the potential of changing the way they operate the vehicle. Whether the drug is methamphetamine or cough syrup, there is now law to back up an officer who makes a DUI arrest when the driver is under the influence of drugs instead of alcohol.

Practically speaking, this law will most likely be invoked when a driver is clearly under the influence of a mind-altering substance. There are several scenarios in which this could happen:

  • A driver is operating a vehicle erratically and is spotted by a police officer and pulled over.
  • A driver is spotted going through a DUI roadblock and appears to be under the influence of some substance.
  • A driver causes or is involved in an accident.

In each of these scenarios, the police officer's observations are a key component of "probable cause." Probable cause is the term applied to the officer's duty to have a good reason to pull someone over, search them or order a drug or alcohol test.

Practical Problems With The Law

The new law may seem reasonable on its fact. After all, no one wants someone who is high or under the influence of a mind-altering drug driving on the roads. However, as it is written, the law may come under scrutiny.

The wording of the law is very general. Can someone be arrested for DUI even if he/she has simply taken a cold tablet? What level of intoxication is necessary in order to make a charge? What testing method will be used to determine drug levels?

Alex Lane will continue to defend Arizona drivers who are charged with DUI or other crimes.

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