Do I have a chance to beat or plea down an aggravated Drug DUI charge in AZ when I was actually stone-cold sober?

Asked over 1 year ago - Phoenix, AZ

I have a medical marijuana card. Pot (a gram) was found in the trunk. I was stone-cold sober. I even blew a 0.00 on the Breathalyzer. I was driving with a suspended license and expired tags that got me pulled over. I got an alcohol DUI (0.08) in Jan 2012.

I took the field sobriety test and then I allowed them to draw blood. Thinking the whole time this stuff was going to clear me, because I was sober at the time. I also didn’t request a test for my defense because I didn’t know you could. It’s been 3 days. Is that too late? I didn’t know about the no tolerance laws here would apply to me since I was actually sober.

Do I have a chance to beat an aggravated DUI or a chance at a plea bargain? Doesn't actually being sober count? Or does it not matter under the law here?

Attorney answers (7)

  1. James J Schollian

    Contributor Level 4


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . So, my first question is, "have you been charged?" If you haven't, relax. You may not be charged with DUI, but you will likely be charged with unlawful possession, since the marijuana was in your car. Even if you have a medical marijuana card, you cannot keep it in your car. You must only use medical marijuana under specific circumstances, and you must keep it under lock and key where only you can get access to it.

    If you have been charged with DUI, you case is defendable. The bad news is that under a recent Arizona Superior Court decision, if you have the metabolite of marijuana in your system while driving a vehicle, you can be charged with DUI, even if you are not impaired, or stone cold sober. So, if you've been using medical marijuana under legal circumstances, and if your blood test shows you have any marijuana metabolite in your system, you can be charged and convicted of DUI.

    The best way to defend you is to examine the probable cause and the reasonable suspicion under which the police pulled you over and arrested you. I'd me more than happy to assist you.

    The above statements are opinions only, and is not to be considered legal advise. No attorney client relationship... more
  2. Michael R Crosner

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . You will have a MUCH better chance of prevailing or a better disposition with a good criminal attorney. Immediately contact a local AZ criminal law attorney - many offer free consultations. Do it ASAP

    This is not intended to be legal advise or as legal representation. I am a California personal injury attorney .... more
  3. Michael Lawrence Doyle


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree with my colleague regarding obtaining an attorney. There is also the issue of a controlled substance in your system-which seems likely since there was a pot in your car and you have referred to it as a drug DUI. They would discover this through a blood test-as opposed to a breathalyzer.

    This is not intended as individual legal advice and there is no attorney client relationship established by this... more
  4. John Arthur Daniels


    Contributor Level 14


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Yes, do get a good attorney. You'll find the investment to be worth it.

    This is only an Avvo answer. I am not getting paid to give this response and am basing this response only on the... more
  5. Ethan Patrick Meaney


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Sounds like a good trial issue. Contact an attorney to discuss. Good luck.

  6. Edwin Alberto Molina III

    Contributor Level 8


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . There are a lot of issues that you raise in your question. The first thing an Attorney would look at is the circumstances of the police stopping your vehicle. If there was no reasonable suspicion to stop your car, then there is a chance that an Attorney could argue that any evidence obtained after the illegal stop could be suppressed(including the blood taken). Second, if you did well on the field sobriety tests, then there may not have been probable cause to support them taking your blood.

    Additionally, despite not being charged with a DUI yet, since you said that you have a medical marijuana card, I'm betting you'll be charged. This is because in Arizona even if you are sober, if the police finds any narcotic drug(or a metabolite of it) in your blood then you can get a DUI charge despite being sober. Since you say you have a medical marijuana card, I would assume that you have at least "inactive" THC in your blood. This type of THC cannot impair a driver, however, our Courts have found that a person can still be convicted of a DUI with inactive THC being the sole metabolite in their blood. These are trial issues, you should consult an Attorney because I anticipate you will be charged. An aggravated DUI carries a minimum sentence of 4 months in prison(even if you get probation) and thousands of dollars in fines. You will need an Attorney once you are charged.

    Answers on Avvo are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice; specific answers require knowledge of... more
  7. Paul E Knost

    Contributor Level 16


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Recent case law in Arizona (ex rel Montgomery) has held that a person can still be DUI, even if they only have the non-psychoactive metabolite of THC (the one that doesn't make you impaired) in their blood. Unfortunately, that stuff stays in one's system for weeks. So, under the current state of Arizona law, you can have a medical marijuana card, be completely sober, but still be convicted of DUI if you just have the metabolite of THC that doesn't even impair you. The police know this, but they're not going to tell you, so long as you are cooperating and giving blood. This is yet another one of the "gotcha" tactics that the State of Arizona uses to generate as many DUI convictions as possible. DUIs are very serious BUSINESS for Arizona, because they are huge revenue generators... Yes, it's really all about the money. That is why they take them so seriously and why the law is the way it is. Basically, to all medical marijuana holders, under the current state of the law, you have to make a choice between driving or using marijuana. You simply cannot do both. The THC metabolite will get you convicted of DUI. Impairment has nothing to do with it any more.


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Field sobriety test for DUI

Field sobriety tests are a series of non-chemical tests typically conducted by officers who have stopped someone on suspicion of DUI.

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