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Prescription Drug DUI Laws in Arizona

In Arizona, a motorist can be arrested for DUI even if their blood alcohol content is below the legal limit of 0.08 percent or if they have had no spirituous liquor at all. Any DUI in Arizona is a criminal offense and subject to serious penalties including jail time, and suspension or loss of driver’s license. A conviction carries criminal and civil charges. Any DUI conviction in Arizona can potentially result in adverse collateral consequences for a person, including loss of their job, driving privileges, residency, and other freedoms they had prior to being convicted of a DUI.

Under Arizona Law A.R.S. 28 – 1381 it is unlawful to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle, if a person is “impaired to the slightest degree” due to any drugs, alcohol, or combination, thereof. This year, Drug DUI charges constituted 14 percent of the total annual impaired driving arrests. Arizona officials reported that many of those were the result of driving impairments caused by prescription drugs.

This law applies to any toxic drug and includes “prescription-only drugs”, as well as over-the- counter drugs, illegal drugs, narcotics, Medical Marijuana or dangerous drugs.

Prescription-Only Drugs

Arizona Criminal Code describes a “prescription-only” drug under A.R.S -13-3401, among other provisions as one that produces a potentially harmful or toxic effect and is recognized by the medical community as a drug that is safe for use only if it is prescribed by a licensed physician or other qualified Medical Practitioner.

Prescription Drug DUI Testing – Your Obligations

If a police officer suspects a person is driving impaired or impaired while in actual physical control of a vehicle, they will begin a DUI investigation. They may ask you questions, regarding any drugs or alcohol you have taken. By law, you do not have to offer this information, which would lead to self-incrimination.

Next they may ask you to participate in Field Sobriety Testing. These are roadside tests administered and graded by the police officer. They are intended as preliminary screening tests to judge your ability to follow instructions and perform certain motor skills. These are not mandatory under law. You have the option of refusing them. Most DUI attorneys will advise you not to agree to take these, because of their high invalidity rate. Many people who are not impaired due to alcohol or drugs are unable to pass them. But you should know there are consequences. In some cases, the police may arrest you at that time on suspicion of DUI if they feel they have probable cause.

At this point they will ask you to participate in a breathalyzer test. If you refuse, and the officer feels they have probable cause to obtain a warrant to administer a blood test, they will obtain one from the judge on call, and obtain a blood sample. If you to submit to a breath test, and it is negative, the officer may still request a blood or urine test if they still suspect you were driving impaired due to drugs.

Prescription Drug DUI Classification and Penalties 

First-time prescription drug DUI charges are brought as a Class 1 Misdemeanors, in absence of aggravated factors. This is the same classification as Marijuana DUI or Alcohol DUI – DWI charges.  Penalties are the same or similar and as harsh as impaired driving charges due to alcohol or Marijuana. Sentencing includes 10 days in jail; $1250.00 in fines, fees, costs, assessments; suspension of driver’s license; probation; substance abuse education, counseling or treatment.

A second DUI offense within 7 years of first-time conviction, including Prescription drug DUI, calls for 90 days incarceration; revocation of driver’s license for 1 year; and $3,000.00 in fines, fees, and costs; substance abuse education, counseling or treatment; and probation. Other criminal and civil penalties may apply.

Third and subsequent DUI, including drug DUI charges are elevated to Felony DUI offenses. Penalties are extremely harsh and call for at least 4 months in prison; higher fines, fees, and costs of at least $4,000.00; 3 years revocation of driver’s license; probation or community service, and a felony criminal record. Other criminal and civil penalties may apply.

DUI Defense for Prescription Drug DUI

If you were arrested for any DUI charges, you should always consult a qualified criminal defense attorney to discuss your matter and options for defense. Despite the fact that you were arrested or cited, you still have the right to defend your DUI. This is done by retaining an attorney to defend your charges and protect your rights. Once retained they will evaluate your case, tailor a defense based on your circumstances, and work to get a favorable resolution in your case.

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