Introduction to Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in Arizona
Most people assume DUI is for drinking and driving, but in Arizona you can be charged with DUI if you drive while under the influence of any illegal substance, or any legal substance while impaired. The two statutes that criminalize driving under the influence of drugs are A.R.S. ?28-1381(A)(1) and A.R.S. ?28-1381(A)(3).
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs While Impaired to the Slightest Degree
Under A.R.S. ?28-1381(A)(1), you cannot operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing, a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances if the person is impaired to the slightest degree. This means that you to be charged with DUI if you are using legally prescribed medications outside of your doctor's recommendations, or if the legally prescribed medications impaired your ability to drive.
Driving While Having Drug Metabolites in Your System
Under A.R.S. ?28-1381(A)(3) it is illegal to drive "while there is any drug or its metabolite in the person's body." This includes marijuana, narcotic drugs, dangerous drugs, and prescription medications where there is no valid prescription. Under this law it's irrelevant whether you were impaired at the time of driving. If drug metabolites are found in your system you may be charged under this statute.
What are Drug Metabolites?
Drug metabolites are left behind when your liver breaks down a drug. Depending upon the drug, drug metabolites may remain in your system for weeks. Marijuana drug metabolites, for example, may be found in your system several weeks after use, well after the effects of the marijuana have worn off. What this means is that you can be charged with a drug DUI in Arizona for simply using a drug several weeks prior to driving, while not being impaired at all by the drug.
Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in Arizona
The penalties for drug DUI are similar to the penalties for a drinking-related DUI. Driving under the influence of drugs in Arizona is a class 1 misdemeanor, with minimum penalties that include 10 days of jail (9 suspended upon completion of alcohol/drug screening and treatment), fines around $1,500, and alcohol/drug screening and treatment. The biggest difference between being convicted of a drinking-related DUI versus a drug DUI is that with a drug DUI conviction you are facing a one (1) year license suspension without the ability to obtain a restricted permit. If convicted of a drinking-related DUI there is only a ninety (90) day suspension, with the ability to obtain a restricted permit after thirty (30) days.
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