Arizona Supreme Court Rules Medical Marijuana Card Holders are Not Exempt from DUI Charges

On November 20, the Arizona Supreme Court determined that medical-marijuana cardholders are not automatically exempt from DUI laws if they are pulled over and accused of having marijuana or marijuana metabolites in their system. The decision for this ruling stemmed from a case where two women were accused of two different DUI charges after marijuana was found in their systems.

The two women were charged with A1 and A3 offenses. A1 charges concern whether or not a driver is impaired while A3 charges determine the presence of a drug in a person’s system, and does not determine whether the drugs in the system caused impairment.

During the court case, the women’s A1 charges were dropped. However, the two were still accused of violating A3. The two appealed the decision, stating that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act barred the A3 charges for medical-marijuana cardholders since marijuana is prescribed to these holders. The Arizona Court of Appeals denied their appeal, and the two women filed another appeal with the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court rules that medical-marijuana prescription cards do not immunize drivers from A3 DUI charges, but that drivers do possess the rights to supply evidence to prove they were not impaired at the time of arrest.

The decision raised many concerns about what does or does not constitute impairment in terms of marijuana usage since there is no adequate way of determining a person’s impairment through the use of blood levels. This gives defendants the chance to prove the lack of impairment, but does not give the state power to prove impairment with hard guidelines.

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