You Don’t Have to Be High to Get a DUI in Arizona

An Arizona appeals court has ruled that marijuana users don’t need to be actually impaired to be successfully prosecuted for driving under the influence. The common sense-defying ruling came Tuesday in the case of a man who tested positive for an inactive marijuana metabolite that remains in the body for weeks after the high from smoking marijuana has worn off.

The ruling in Arizona v. Shilgevorkyan overturned a decision by a superior court judge who said that it didn’t make sense to prosecute people for driving under the influence if they’re not actually under the influence.

The ruling turned on a close reading of legislative intent in writing the state’s DUID law. The legislation specified the presence of “the metabolite” of THC, and Shilgevorkyan had argued that lawmakers meant “hydroxy-THC, the metabolite which would indicate current impairment, not carboxy-THC, an inactive metabolite that indicates only usage some time in the past.

The appeals court disagreed, citing its decisions on earlier challenges to the DUID. “The legislature intended to create a ‘per se prohibition’ and a ‘flat ban on driving with any proscribed drug in one’s system,” the court noted. “We determined that the legislative ban extends to all substances, whether capable of causing impairment or not.”

Because the law was drafted to protect public safety, the appeals court said, it should be interpreted broadly to include inactive as well as active compounds.

But Superior Court Commissioner Myra Harris, who had ruled on Shilgevorkyan’s behalf, warned in her earlier opinion that the appeals court’s interpretation of the law would result in people, including out of state medical marijuana patients, being charged with DUI when they are not impaired.

“Residents of these states, particularly those geographically near Arizona, are likely to travel to Arizona,” Harris said in her 2012 ruling upholding the dismissal. “It would be irrational for Arizona to prosecute a defendant for an act that might have occurred outside of Arizona several weeks earlier.”

Shilgevorkyan’s attorney said he plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

– Article originally from Stop the Drug War, used with permission.

Comments

19 Comments

  1. Majik53 on

    The police here have RFID license plate readers on their cruisers (and installed all over the state) and can look up records/track someone’s travels.. Don’t have a car? No problem, the state ID’s and driver licenses have them in too.

  2. Majik53 on

    The police here have RFID license plate readers on their cruisers (and installed all over the state) and can look up records/track someone’s travels.. Don’t have a car? No problem, the state ID’s and driver licenses have them in too.

  3. Anonymous on

    You are correct. We are a nation of idiots. Guess under this interpretation we’ll see people arrested for driving under the influence of blood pressure medication too, right? How many officers are arresting people while taking medications?

  4. jammerk65 on

    i have a mmj card here in arizona where i am supposed to be able to grow 12 plants and have 2 and a half oz. of product,the pima co. detectives came to my house because of a domestic i had with my wife and made me pull out my 12 plants, i was in full compliance!

  5. Cliff on

    I do agree with you jammer but it is hard to be peaceful when these pig scums are destroying the lives of our brothers and sisters.

  6. Cliff on

    America is a police state. If this insanity does not stop soon I will be glad to see America go bankrupt. I will never help a pig are any political scum. Fk all of them.

  7. jammerk65 on

    just another tool the law makers are useing in the war against mmj! make no doubt about it they dont want mmj here in arizona! unite people and vote out anyone that stands in our way, education and communication is our best weapon against the mmj haters! unite and fight!

  8. Anonymous on

    I lost respect for Arizona when there was the mass movement of the poorly educated Christians running around calling the President the anti-christ because of changes to the medical system…..

    America has become a laughing stock of the world because in places like Canada and Europe they literally view this type of nonsense as insane rather than having any legitimacy which it seems to have in America.

    (I do not support Obama and also come from a strong roots Christian Tradition) but I choose not to be an idiot and offensive to my fellow man.

    P.s. I don’t smoke pot I just find this country so backwards that I’m standing up wherever I can.

  9. gutrod on

    Anyone pot smokers with any intelligence will get the hell out of Arizona immediately. Sounds like they are run by a bunch of bill hillies. The lawmakers are not living on the planet earth where pot use is mainstream just like alcohol. Lol.

  10. jammerk65 on

    welcome to the police state of arizona where they crap on your civil rights!

  11. Don B on

    The article doesn’t explain why Mr. Shilgevorkyan was stopped and tested in the first place. These per se prohibition laws are only effective if cops are allowed to stop drivers at random without need to have observed any unsafe driving.

  12. Anonymous on

    Arizona.

    The place where they detain US BORN CITIZENS because they look latin.

    Arizona.

    A place that attempts to interpret laws without rational.

    Arizona.

    A place where on issue after issue they try to employ ignorance and bigotry as solutions.

    Shameful. The citizens should stand up to this lunacy. It defames them.

  13. Anonymous on

    If this story is correct than we are literally a nation of idiots.

    Why not label someone under the influence of linguine.

    Scary stuff.

  14. Anonymous on

    If this story is correct than we are literally a nation of idiots.

    Why not label someone under the influence of linguine.

    Scary stuff.

  15. Anonymouse on

    WTF!

    That does not make any sense. DUI stand for driving under the influence, right? if you are not under the influence then you are not in violation of the DUI law. Influence denotes impairment and inactive metabolites do not cause impairment. How can a person be convicted of a crime if they did not break any laws?

  16. Anonymous on

    Got any proof that the public is at risk from others that have the metabolite in their system?
    Got any proof that people are at risk from people that are not impaired?