Marijuana DUI Arrest In Arizona: Everything You Need To Know
When most people think of a DUI, they think of alcohol rather than marijuana. But you can actually be arrested for driving after using marijuana, and the penalties for a conviction in Tucson are strict. The charges against you should be taken seriously, and you should begin crafting your defense as soon as possible after your arrest. If you’d rather hire your own defense attorney rather than leave your fate in the hands of a public defender, our Tucson DUI attorneys are available for free consultations. Call or use our online form to learn more.
Recreational Marijuana Legalization & DUI Laws In Arizona
Arizona has joined the rank of states that allow for recreational marijuana use for those over the age of 21. But while almost everyone knows it’s not okay to drink alcohol and drive, many people don’t realize that the same logic applies to driving after using marijuana. Marijuana can increase your reaction time and overall impair your ability to drive. So you can still be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana in Arizona, but you will face the same penalties as if you were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
When you are arrested for drinking and driving, it will be based upon your BAC, or blood alcohol content. Clearly, your blood alcohol content won’t increase from ingesting marijuana. So when you are arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, the police will be testing for marijuana metabolites in your system instead. The issue here is that marijuana metabolites can remain in your system much longer than alcohol would. Depending on factors like how frequently you use marijuana and how much you used last, marijuana metabolites could remain in your system for up to 30 days. That means that you could smoke weed one night, completely forget about it, and be arrested for marijuana DUI weeks later when you don’t feel even the least bit high.
Arizona Marijuana Laws Have Changed
Before the overhaul of Arizona’s marijuana laws, someone without a medical marijuana card could be arrested for driving with any amount of marijuana metabolites in their system. Someone with a valid medical marijuana card could have an affirmative defense that the amount of metabolites in their system were not actually enough to impair the driver. Now that recreational marijuana is legal in Arizona, that same affirmative can be utilized against DUI charges by recreational users. However, having a defense doesn’t mean that facing DUI charges will be easy. It will be, at a minimum, a massive inconvenience, and the wrong attorney could fumble your case and land you in jail.
What Consequences Will I Face If Convicted Of DUI In Tucson?
As previously mentioned, the penalties for being convicted of DUI in Arizona are strict, some of the strictest in the country. Most DUI convictions in Arizona are misdemeanors, but it is possible to be charged with Aggravated DUI, which is a felony. A conviction of either type will remain on your criminal record for life. This can get you rejected from apartment complexes, job opportunities, organization memberships, and more.
Some of the more direct and immediate consequences you will face include:
- Mandatory jail time. Arizona’s mandatory jail time for even a first-time conviction is one of the things that makes Arizona’s DUI laws so relatively strict. For a first time standard DUI, the mandatory sentence is 10 days, but up to 9 of those can be commuted. Your jail sentence will increase with your level of impairment at the time of arrest, or if you have been convicted of multiple previous DUIs.
- Steep fines. You will be imposed with mandatory fines and court costs if convicted of a DUI in Arizona. These start at $1,250 and can be much higher based on certain factors.
- Driver’s license restrictions. Depending on the type of DUI you are convicted of, your driver’s license will either be suspended or revoked. This could be for 90 days, going up to 2 years or even more. Even if you are convicted of DUI, you may be able to negotiate some exceptions to your driver’s license restrictions, such as the ability to drive during certain hours or only to get to school and work. You can also expect strict consequences if you have a commercial driver’s license.
- SR-22 Auto Insurance. When you are convicted of DUI, you become known to the insurance companies as a “high risk” driver. Auto insurance companies usually charge at least double once you have received this designation. You may need to maintain this type of insurance for up to 3 years.
- Community service: Usually 30 hours, but can be increased at the judge’s discretion.
- Ignition Interlock Device: The judge also has the discretion to order that you use an IID for 6-12 months after a marijuana DUI conviction. This can also come with installation costs and monthly fees.
- Traffic school: After a DUI conviction, you will need to complete drug and alcohol screening and defensive driving school. These will also come with additional costs and fees.
General Tips To Avoid a Marijuana DUI In Arizona
Obviously, if you don’t use marijuana, you don’t need to be worried about being arrested for a marijuana DUI. However, if you are using marijuana or plan on using marijuana in Pima County, Tucson, Arizona, please read the tips below.
Here Are Some Tips That You Can Use In General To Avoid a Marijuana DUI Arrest In Tucson
- Avoid driving after using marijuana altogether. However long you think you need to wait to drive after using marijuana, you should probably wait more. If you really want to enjoy a joint, you should plan on not driving until at least the next day, and possibly even longer depending on the amount and potency of what you consumed.
- Walk, bike, ride-share, etc., when you plan to use marijuana: Sometimes you want to use marijuana, but you don’t want to stay at home eating snacks on the couch. When this mood hits you, we encourage you to use methods of transportation besides driving yourself to wherever you choose to go.
- Learn about how long marijuana stays in your system: There are several factors that will affect how long marijuana metabolites remain in your system. How recently you smoked, the amount you ingested, and how regularly you use marijuana are huge factors. Genetics and body fat can also impact how long metabolites stay in your system. But avoiding marijuana completely is the only way to know you won’t have metabolites in your system.
- Remember your right to refuse field sobriety tests. Refusing a breathalyzer test has strict consequences in Arizona, but you have the right to say no to field sobriety testing. There are numerous factors that can cause you to appear impaired during field sobriety testing when you are sober. The most common field sobriety tests are walking in a straight line, standing on one foot, and horizontal gaze nystagmus.
- Don’t admit to using marijuana. If you have been pulled over under suspicion of driving under the influence, the last thing you should do is admit to ever using marijuana. If the police want to arrest you for driving high, make them prove it rather than admitting it yourself. You also have a constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination.
Contact Our Experienced Tucson DUI Lawyers To Help You Negotiate
After being arrested for marijuana DUI in Tucson, you need to work swiftly or else face the strict consequences for an Arizona conviction. While the state is obligated to provide you with a public defender, you also have the right to hire your own private defense attorney. Thus, our experienced Tucson DUI lawyers can help you negotiate a plea bargain, reduce your charges, or even get them dropped entirely. Don’t let a Tucson marijuana DUI ruin your life. Therefore, please call our Tucson DUI Firm to set up your free consultation as soon as possible after your arrest.
Additional Information on Arizona $0 Down DUI Lawyers.
1731 West Baseline Rd., Suite #101
Mesa, AZ 85202
Office: (480) 448-9800
20325 N 51st Avenue Suite #134, Building 5
Glendale, AZ 85308
Office: (602) 509-0955
2 East Congress St., Suite #900-6A
Tucson, AZ 85701
Office: (520) 441-1450
12725 W. Indian School Rd., Ste E, #101
Avondale, AZ 85392
Office: (623) 399-4222