Arizona Drug DUI Laws and How the Police Prove a Drug DUI
When people hear “DUI,” they usually immediately think to someone who has been busted drinking alcohol and driving. What many people do not think about is that you can get a DUI if you drive while impaired by drugs as well.
It goes without saying that illicit drug use is illegal in Arizona and that applied to marijuana as well. While many people may think that they can smoke marijuana now, they can only do so if they go through the prescribed procedures set forth by the state. The drug is only approved for medicinal purposes at this point, but you can still get a DUI even if you have legally used it if you are impaired to the point that you cannot drive.
A.R.S. 28-1381(A)(1) makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of an 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.
The Initial Stop
A law enforcement officer in Arizona has wide discretion when making a traffic stop if they suspect intoxication. They only need reasonable suspicion that the driver is under the influence. However, they cannot make a stop if they do not have reason to believe you were intoxicated. Your attorney will examine all aspects of your case when determining whether or not you were legally stopped.
It is important that you take the required field sobriety tests and submit to a breathalyzer if asked. Your energy needs to be spent on securing an attorney after an arrest is made, not resisting the efforts of law enforcement during a stop.
There is little an officer can do to confirm which drug a person has been using while in the field. If a breathalyzer does not show a person to have consumed alcohol, the officer can still make an arrest if they believe a person to be intoxicated. While in the field, however, an officer will be looking at physical signs and symptoms to determine a person’s intoxication. This can include:
- Observations of a person’s ability to walk and their speech
- A person’s pupillary response
- They can even use a person’s blood pressure readings
If you are arrested, they have the right to compel you to provide blood or urine samples to detect narcotics in your system.
What if the substance I was using was a type of synthetic marijuana (K2, spice, incense, etc.)?
- If the officer suspects you are intoxicated and you cannot pass sobriety tests, you will likely be arrested even if they cannot confirm which substance you have used. When arrested, you can be compelled to provide a blood or urine test which may or may not show illegal substances in your body. Often, synthetic drugs do not show up on standard tests. However, the prosecution will still use video evidence against you as well as the officer’s testimony.
Your Path Forward
You need to secure an attorney as soon as possible if you have been arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence of an illegal drug. It is not impossible to get these charges reduced or even thrown out if there was a problem with the initial stop or the testing procedures. We understand that many drugs remain present in a person’s system long after the intoxicating effects have subsided and we also know that field sobriety tests are inherently flawed.
Find an Arizona criminal defense attorney who will vigorously defend your case so you can get your life back.
Click here for information on what happens if you refuse a breathalyzer in Arizona.