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Marijuana DUI Laws in Flagstaff, Arizona

Marijuana DUI Laws

Marijuana DUI Laws in Flagstaff, Arizona

 

Marijuana DUI Laws

 

Is weed legal in Arizona now? Proposition 207 was on the ballot in the November 2020 election to legalize recreational use of marijuana in the state of Arizona. 60% of Arizona voters said yes and approved it. Now that the proposition passed, there are a few steps that must happen before people can purchase and use marijuana legally. The Arizona Secretary, Katie Hobbs, must first certify the election, and that will happen in early December 2020 when new elected officeholders are sworn in and voter initiatives are validated. The application process for licenses to sell marjiuana will open on January 19, 2021 and the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) will have up to 60 days to issue licenses after applications are submitted. According to this timeline, marijuana sales are anticipated to begin in March 2021. 

Now that recreational marijuana use is legal in the state of Arizona, that has many people wondering how that impacts marijuana DUI laws and whether there are exceptions or defenses if you have a medical marijuana card. The short answer to the question of “can you drive while high” is still a hard “no.” Antol and Sherman, PC is your go-to criminal defense firm in Northern Arizona so here is our rundown of marijuana DUI laws in Flagstaff, Arizona.

What is a Marijuana DUI in Flagstaff, AZ?

With the passing of Proposition 207, marijuana will be treated similarly to alcohol in that you must be 21 years or older to purchase it, and you cannot drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. You may be wondering how someone is tested for the presence of marijuana in their system. With alcohol you can consent to a breathalyzer, but the same thing does not exist for marijuana. If you are arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana, the police officer will ask for your consent to submit a blood test. You do not have to consent to it, but know that if you refuse there will be administrative penalties at the Department of Motor Vehicles with your license. Should your case go to trial, the judge or jury can hold your refusal to submit to the test against you as evidence of guilt. The marijuana blood test administered is to determine the presence of THC metabolites in your blood, and if they are found in sufficient concentration, you can be charged with a marijuana DUI. Being under the influence in Arizona means that the marijuana impairs normal coordination to even the slightest degree. Indicators that someone’s normal coordination is impaired include slurred speech, difficulty standing or walking, erratic driving, inability to perform the standardized field sobriety tests an office administers on the side of the road, and so forth. Like with alcohol, if you are under the age of 21, it is illegal for you to drive with any detectable amount of marijuana in your system at all whether impaired or not.

DUI Laws for Medical Marijuana Patients in Arizona

Arizona medical marijuana laws have been in existence since November 2010, but that still does not protect you from being charged with a marijuana DUI if you are caught driving under the influence of marijuana. The laws about DUI in Arizona make it clear that similar to any prescribed drug, if you ingest it and then drive under the influence, you can be charged with DUI. A medical marijuana card is not a “get-out-of-jail-free card” like many people like to think. Look at a label of prescribed drugs and you will often find there are warnings not to operate a motor vehicle after ingesting them. A judge or jury is not likely to believe that you “did not know” the drug would impair you since you are deemed to be on notice in consulting with a doctor and having labels on prescriptions warning of such anticipated effects and drug interactions.

What Counts as “Driving” While Under the Influence?

A marijuana DUI happens when someone is driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of cannabis (or combined with another intoxicant such as alcohol or another drug). Actual physical control means more than your car moving down a street with you behind the steering wheel. The courts want to encourage people to take shelter in their car and deter people from driving when they have been ingesting drugs and/or alcohol. Some of the factors a court will weigh to determine if you are in actual physical control of a motor vehicle include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Is your car legally parked? 
  2. Are you in the driver’s seat?
  3. Are you awake or asleep when the officer finds you?
  4. Are the keys in the ignition?
  5. Is your car’s engine on?
  6. Is your seatbelt on?
  7. Are the headlights on?

Often there is a legal and factual battle between the defense attorney and the prosecutor as to whether someone is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle or they are using their motor vehicle for shelter to sleep off a night of drinking or consuming drugs. It is a case-by-case basis and this is why having proper representation is so important to be able to defend yourself.

Penalties for a Marijuana DUI in Flagstaff, Arizona

For marijuana DUIs, a person is exposed to the same or similar criminal and administrative penalties as when charged with an alcohol DUI. 

First weed DUI offense (misdemeanor):

  • Mandatory minimum of up to 10 consecutive days in jail, 9 months suspended (not active jail time but if you violate probation you are facing 9 months in jail)
  • A minimum fine of $1,600
  • Substance abuse screening (SAS), education, and treatment program
  • Court ordered community service 
  • Probation
  • Driver’s license suspension of up to 90 days

Second weed DUI offense (misdemeanor):

  • Mandatory minimum of 90 days in jail, 90 days suspended
  • A minimum fine of $3,500 
  • SAS, education, and treatment program
  • Court ordered community service 
  • Probation
  • Driver’s license revocation of up to 1 year

Third weed DUI offense within 7 years is charged as an Aggravated DUI (felony):

  • Mandatory minimum of 4 months in jail, 8 months for subsequent offense after three
  • A minimum fine of $4,000
  • SAS, education, and treatment program
  • Probation and/or parole
  • Driver’s license revocation of up to 3 years
  • Possible forfeiture of your vehicle 

Facing Marijuana DUI Charges in Flagstaff, Arizona? Talk with a Legal Representative Today

If there is one takeaway from our overview of marijuana DUI laws, we hope it is that you realize the legalization of marijuana in Arizona does not impact the harsh marijuana DUI laws in this state. Driving high is never worth it. Take an Uber, have a designated driver, use it within your home and never in your car. Arizona is one of the toughest states in the country on DUI. The penalties are meant to be tough to deter people from committing this crime and punish those who do break the DUI laws. If you find yourself charged with a marijuana DUI, contact us at Antol & Sherman, PC.  We have a team of highly experienced criminal defense attorneys who have litigated AZ cannabis DUI cases in the courts throughout Northern Arizona.