Marijuana DUI Consequences

Marijuana DUI consequences.  My name is Gordon Thompson and today is July 1, 2016.  The topic for today’s podcast is marijuana DUI consequences for cases here in Arizona, specifically for misdemeanor DUI cases.

The law with regard to marijuana DUIs in Arizona has changed significantly over the last year.  There’s two reasons for that.  Earlier this year the Arizona Supreme Court interpreted the law of driving and having marijuana in the body, or THC in the body, differently than it was in the past.  When one of the charges is driving and having a controlled substance, THC in this case, within the body previously there was no real defense to that, because if the active THC was present that’s all that was required proven by the State.  The State did not have to prove impairment.  What the Supreme Court said is that if a person is a medical marijuana card holder and has active THC in the body, as long as that level of THC is not above a level which would cause impairment they are not guilty of that charge.  Although it might not make sense, but the person can still be found guilty of driving while impaired by the marijuana, the THC, but at least on what we describe as the A3 charge it will be not guilty if the level of THC was below that which would cause impairment.  What the Supreme Court left unsaid was, what level of impairment; is it a general level that applies to everyone, analogous to a .08% level with regard to alcohol, or is it the level of that particular person.  That remains an open question and we will see what happens, but the important point as far as most people are concerned is now, for medical marijuana cardholders, there is a defense which would lead to them being found not guilty; which has a major effect of course on collateral consequences because they wouldn’t get their license revoked if they were found not guilty, so that’s one change.

A second change that has come into effect, or will come into effect, is with regard to the license consequences.  Right now if is somebody is found guilty of driving under the influence of prescription or illegal drugs, or THC marijuana, if it is guilty of that offense there is a mandatory one-year revocation of the driver’s license or privilege to drive.  It does not matter if this is a first offense, second offense or a felony, it is a mandatory one-year revocation.  Where this revocation is different from DUI alcohol is there is no provision for a restricted license.  So for example on a DUI alcohol first offense the person gets a 90 day suspension.  Under the current law, if somebody has a DUI marijuana conviction they would get an automatic revocation with no driving all.  What has been changed is, the legislature has changed the law effective January 1, 2017; as of then DUI drugs and DUI marijuana will be treated the same as DUI alcohol with regard to the license consequences and so there will be no drug revocation.  So that is the second major consequence change within the last year

Another consequence which could happen if somebody is found guilty of the DUI marijuana is with regard to the interlock device. If the person is found guilty of illegally having a drug such as THC in the body and the court says that they do not need any alcohol counseling then they are not required to install the interlock device.  If either the court says the person does require alcohol counseling, or they are convicted on the impairment charge (not simply the charge of having it within their body), then they are required to have the interlock.  Those are some of the ways Marijuana DUI is different than DUI Alcohol.

Another consequence of a marijuana DUI case is if a person has a permit issued by the federal government’s Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Bureau they could lose that, not because of the conviction but rather because the conviction would an indication the person is a habitual user of marijuana which disqualifies them for the permit. Those permits issued under the statute for the ATF could include the firearms sales-of permits as well as of explosives permits miners may have.

So those are some of the consequences of marijuana DUI.

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