Blood Simple: DWI and Marijuana Metabolites

Raleigh Drug LawyerIn Arizona, it is a DUI for someone to drive on the road in a vehicle while there is any drug or metabolite of a drug listed in ARS 13-3401.

The law is absurd. It makes it a criminal act to drive on the roads of Arizona with the metabolites of, say, marijuana in one’s system long after the active effects of marijuana have passed. Smoking marijuana causes, at most, a couple of hours of impairment. But metabolites from marijuana can remain in the body for four weeks or more past the date on which it was smoked.

Before readers say, “but marijuana is illegal, so why should I care about the marijuana smokers of Arizona?” let me add that Arizona has a medical marijuana provision. Now, quite obviously, no one wants someone to legally smoke marijuana, and then, impaired on its effects, drive. That is a crime.

It would be entirely appropriate for someone authorized to smoke marijuana under Arizona’s medical marijuana initiative to then, after a couple of days pass, to drive his or her car and to then be convicted of a DUI in Arizona even though there are no longer any impairing effects of the drug.

In fact, the expert testimony in cited by the Arizona Court of Appeals ruling upholding the current law stated that there was no impairing effects of Carboxy-THC, a metabolite of marijuana that can stay in a person’s body for more than a month after marijuana is smoked.

Nonetheless, the Court of Appeals upheld the Arizona DUI law, effectively making it a criminal act to legally smoke marijuana, display no impairing effects while driving a car weeks after the smoking occurred.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.