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Several states have laws in effect that allow individuals to be charged with DUI if they are found to be under the influence of drugs or their metabolites. Metabolites are the byproducts of a chemical compound that have been metabolized into another compound by the body and may or may not be able to have a psychoactive affect on an individual. Tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) is the psychoactive component found in marijuana and it has two primary metabolites. Hydroxy-THC is the first metabolite that THC breaks down into and is considered to be psychoactive on its own but usually is converted quickly into Carboxy-THC. Carboxy-THC is not psychoactive and has no intoxicating effect but can remain in a person’s bloodstream in detectable amounts for up to 30 days after ingestion of THC.
In Arizona, individuals submitting to a blood or urine test to determine their level of impairment from any drugs or alcohol could previously be charged with DUI for the mere presence of one or both of these metabolites of THC. In a long awaited opinion, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the presence of carboxy-THC alone is not sufficient to render a conviction for DUI. The Arizona Supreme Court oral argument case summary lists the facts, issues, and relevant statutes involved with their decision. This finding effectively reverses a memorandum decision in 2012 from the Arizona state appellate court which basically allows for a DUI conviction based upon the mere presence of Carboxy-THC in an individual’s bloodstream.
Arizona legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in 2010, and proponents have argued the same position of Arizona Justice Robert Brutinel when he stated that the current interpretation of marijuana laws would “create criminal liability regardless of how long the metabolite remains in the driver’s system or whether it has has any impairing effect.” There is an estimated 40,000 legal medical marijuana users in Arizona who can now breathe a little easier behind the wheel.
This Arizona Supreme Court ruling means that if you were convicted of DUI when only Carboxy-THC was detected in your blood or urine, then you may be entitled to seek relief from the DUI conviction under Rule 32 of the Criminal Rules in Arizona. If you were convicted of DUI at trial or if you plead guilty to DUI charges due to the presence of only Carboxy-THC then you may be eligible to have your conviction overturned if it happened within the past 80 days. The ruling provides protection against DUI charges for those with only Carboxy-THC in their system, such as those who have used marijuana within the last 30 days and medical marijuana users. Visitors from states that have legalized recreational marijuana use would also be protected by the law, providing that they are not under the influence of THC and they don’t have Hydroxy-THC in their blood system.
If you have been charged with a marijauna DUI, then contact Mark Weingart to defend your rights and freedom. This new ruling on the interpretation of Arizona DUI law related to marijuana could provide an opportunity to have your charges dismissed or your previous marijuana DUI conviction overturned if it occurred within the last 80 days before the court made it’s opinion on the matter known. If you submitted to a blood or urine test that showed that Carboxy-THC was the only metabolite of marijuana present, then you may eligible for relief under Rule 32 of the Arizona Criminal Rules. Contact The Weingart Firm, PLLC to schedule a completely complimentary review of your DUI case today!