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Marijuana DUI in Tempe, AZ: Establishing Driver Impairment

In Arizona, a motorist may be charged with Marijuana DUI, if they are under the influence of Marijuana, and they are driving “impaired to the slightest degree” A.R.S. 28 § 1381.

The burden of proof rests with prosecution to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that a person was actually driving impaired due to Marijuana found in their bloodstream.

Marijuana can actually remain in the blood stream for days and even weeks depending on how much was inhaled or ingested, and the frequency of use. In some cases, traces of Marijuana can be found after a month of use has passed.

In order for police to stop a driver to investigate for DUI with Alcohol, Marijuana or any other drugs, they must have “reasonable suspicion” that a crime or violation of the law is in progress. Once stopped, the police will ask question and look for signs of driver impairment.

If they suspect the driver is under the influence of drugs, they will require a blood or other chemical test to determine what drug or combination of drugs the driver may have inhaled or ingested.   If they have “probable cause” to believe a person is under the influence and driving impaired, they can make a lawful arrest. “Probable cause” does require some evidence such as the driver admitting they have recently used Marijuana; failed Field Sobriety Tests; Marijuana found in plain sight; along with other observations by the police officer.

Penalties for conviction of Marijuana DUI charges are very similar to Alcohol related DUI charges.  Minimum sentencing for includes jail terms of at 10 days; suspension of driver’s license for up to 90 days; mandatory alcohol or drug screening or counseling, fines, fees, assessments, probation, and other penalties.

If you face Marijuana DUI charges in Tempe AZ, you should always consult a criminal defense attorney before pleading guilty, or going to court unrepresented. There may be defenses that you are unaware of that if they apply, may lead to a dismissal of your charges. One example is in the case of chemical testing by police that is found to have inconsistencies or irregularities. You should always request a second sample for your defense, so your attorney can examine it and have independently retested. If the results are inaccurate, it may lead to dismissal of the evidence against you.

The state needs to prove that a person was driving impaired due to the Marijuana in their system, and not due to fatigue or other cause. The failure of the prosecution to meet the burden of proof will result in an acquittal or dismissal of charges.

If your constitutional rights were violated during the DUI stop, questioning, testing, or arrest, any evidence against you obtained after that point, may be dismissed. This often leads to the charges being dropped, since it would dismiss material evidence and weaken the prosecution’s case against.

Any evidence challenged or defense used are the most effective when applied by an experienced Tempe criminal attorney.