Tuesday, February 19, 2013

AZ Court Rules Traces of Marijuana Get You a DUI

Phillip Smith
Stop The Drug War

An Arizona appeals court has ruled that marijuana users don't need to be actually impaired to be successfully prosecuted for driving under the influence. The ruling came Tuesday in the case of a man who tested positive for an inactive marijuana metabolite that remains in the body for weeks after the high from smoking marijuana has worn off.

The ruling in Arizona v. Shilgevorkyan overturned a decision by a superior court judge who said that it didn't make sense to prosecute people for driving under the influence if they're not actually under the influence.

The ruling turned on a close reading of legislative intent in writing the state's DUID law. The legislation specified the presence of "the metabolite" of THC, and Shilgevorkyan had argued that lawmakers meant "hydroxy-THC, the metabolite which would indicate current impairment, not carboxy-THC, an inactive metabolite that indicates only usage some time in the past.

The appeals court disagreed, citing its decisions on earlier challenges to the DUID. "The legislature intended to create a 'per se prohibition' and a 'flat ban on driving with any proscribed drug in one's system," the court noted. "We determined that the legislative ban extends to all substances, whether capable of causing impairment or not."

Because the law was drafted to protect public safety, the appeals court said, it should be interpreted broadly to include inactive as well as active compounds.

But Superior Court Commissioner Myra Harris, who had ruled on Shilgevorkyan's behalf, warned in her earlier opinion that the appeals court's interpretation of the law would result in people, including out of state medical marijuana patients, being charged with DUI when they are not impaired.

"Residents of these states, particularly those geographically near Arizona, are likely to travel to Arizona," Harris said in her 2012 ruling upholding the dismissal. "It would be irrational for Arizona to prosecute a defendant for an act that might have occurred outside of Arizona several weeks earlier."

Shilgevorkyan's attorney said he plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

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Scott said...

As a Young Republican in college (25 years ago) and a one time supporter of "conservative" views and laws, after reading this, it sickens me even more that I could have been so stupid all of those years. Beleive me, I learned of my stupidity during the G.H. Bush tenure, however I still have many years to go to pay for my ommitances. This is a crime unto itself.......

Anonymous said...

Ever notice how the states which fight the hardest for gun rights citing the second amendment ad nauseum........are the same states who lead the way in the war on pot smokers?

Mike C. said...

Any one who would get a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana should also obtain a prescription for Marinol.
The test for THC metabolites would then result in a positive for the legally available medicine, provoking some kind of offense by authorities, leading to a wonderful court case and ridiculously large settlement which would spin heads everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Stupid is as stupid does...


Anonymous said...

I don't get the disconnect with these collectivists. I am all in favor of the 2nd and also all in favor of ending the war on some drugs.You are either pro freedom or you are not.

Bill in IL

Bret said...

No to mention the over 35,000 medical marijuana patients in Arizona alone.

Anonymous said...

I think that it would be great if thousands of people did not show up for work so as not to chance getting a DUI. I bet that there are a lot of government employees that enjoy a little herb.

Mr Mark 1977 said...

"don't need to be actually impaired to be successfully prosecuted for driving under the influence."

Well that's stupid. That's basically saying, one doesn't need to be impaired to be prosecuted for driving whilst impaired.

It's not just stupid, it's plain WRONG.


"We determined that the legislative ban extends to all substances, whether capable of causing impairment or not."


So if someone is not impaired, they deserve to be prosectued in the same way as someone who IS impaired whilst driving?!

What next - prosecuting people with a criminal record, who drive, because they committed an illegal activity in the past?

Why not just knock down random people's front doors and cart them off to jail for no reason at all?

Why not go the whole hog and start prosecuting loads people for all kinds of things THAT THEY HAVEN'T ACTUALLY F**KING DONE?!!

Whoever the tits are that came up with this oppressive illogical nonsense, should be sued by anyone wronged by these simpletons.

Basically, they are saying 'it's not ok to have cannabis in your system when you smoked it last week - but it's fine to drive after a bottle of beer'.

Anonymous said...

I don't smoke but...
They really are going full schizophrenic.

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