New Drug DUI Bill Targets Marijuana Users

The introduction of Arizona HB 2273 has raised concern that passage of this bill may result in DUI convictions for medical marijuana users who are not actually impaired while driving, according to reports.

State Representative Sonny Borrelli, R-Kingman, is the primary sponsor of the new bill that would reverse the Arizona Supreme Court's ruling in April 2014 that prohibits marijuana DUI convictions that are based solely on the presence of marijuana in the bloodstream.

"Zero Tolerance" Overturned by Voters

In 1990, the Arizona state legislation passed a zero-tolerance law that specified that DUI charges could be brought against drivers with any amount of discernible marijuana metabolites in the bloodstream. However, by 2010 voters approved the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. This act stipulates that driving under the influence of marijuana is still prohibited; however, qualified medical users cannot be prosecuted for a DUI "solely because of the presence of metabolites or components of marijuana that appear in insufficient concentration to cause impairment." Research shows that the metabolites of THC, a compound of marijuana, can remain in the body for weeks after marijuana use, but the presence of these metabolites does not mean that the individual is impaired.

New Bill Prohibits Pot Metabolites

The new bill amends the state's DUI statutes by prohibiting any "active or inactive metabolites" in a suspected impaired driver's bloodstream. When questioned about the bill, Borrelli admitted, "Because carboxy THC can remain in the body up to 30 days...a medical user could be charged up to a month after legal ingestion." Because of this and Borrelli's attempt to bypass the 1998 Voter Protection Act, some lawyers and other critics claim that the bill is in "clear contravention" of the 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.

Marijuana DUI in Arizona

Arizona is famous for its strict DUI laws. Most cases center around drinking alcohol and driving; however, there are a large number of "drugged" driving cases each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2007 their National Roadside Survey revealed that more than 16 percent of weekend and nighttime drivers tested positive for prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Another 11 percent tested positive for illicit drugs.

In Arizona, possession of marijuana is a felony charge unless you have a medical marijuana card. Even if you have a medical marijuana card, changes in the law could cause you to be arrested for a DUI, even if you are not impaired. When facing DUI charges of any kind, call the Law Offices of Alex Lane in Phoenix, AZ.

Alex Lane has served as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. He is extremely experienced in DUI defense and understands these cases thoroughly. Rather than taking a chance, call Alex Lane and begin building your DUI defense.

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