What Is Drugged Driving in Arizona?
Driving under the influence or DUI is a crime that is often associated with alcohol intoxication while behind the wheel. What many don’t realize, however, is that DUI charges can also be brought against people who drive while under the influence of drugs. The drugs could be illicit drugs, legal prescription drugs, or even medical marijuana, and you will be charged with a DUI if you’re caught operating a vehicle while under their influence.
In Arizona, the law that covers drugged driving is ARS 28-1381. It considers “under the influence” a driver who is apprehended with a controlled substance in his or her system or demonstrates the slightest bit of impairment by any combination of substances.
How do police officers measure drug impairment?
In cases of DUI involving alcohol, determining a driver’s intoxication can be easily done through a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) test. Establishing drug impairment, however, is much more challenging. The body flushes alcohol rapidly, so if a Breathalyzer test detects a 0.08 percent BAC level at the time the driver was stopped, that person is indeed intoxicated. Marijuana, however, can stay in the bloodstream or urine for up to five weeks. Get caught driving with marijuana in your system, and you’re going to need the best marijuana lawyer Phoenix can offer. Cocaine, meanwhile, could take a day or two to flush out. So if they were tested during a traffic stop, there is no telling when they actually took the drugs.
How do authorities detect drug impairment?
When a police officer stops a driver on suspicion of DUI, the first thing they try to find out is if the driver is drunk. Once they rule out alcohol intoxication but still believe the driver is impaired in some way, the cops will bring in a drug recognition expert or DRE to determine drug impairment. DREs are cops who are specially trained to examine a person’s eye movements, behavior, and other cues to determine if a person is driving under the influence of drugs.
Arizona has drugged driving “Per Se” laws
Arizona is one of 15 states that enforce “per se” drugged driving laws for all drivers. Under these Arizona drug DUI laws, you can be charged with DUI if any detectable amount of particular drugs is found in your system at the time police officers pulled you over.
Drug DUI in Arizona penalties
As with any DUI case, a conviction for drugged driving in Arizona carries with it a number of penalties.
For first-time offenders:
- $1,800 fine
- Jail sentence of 10 to 180 days
- Possible 90-day driver’s license suspension
- Community service
- Probation of up to five years
- Join substance screening and education programs
- Installation of an Ignition Interlock device for one year
For a second offense:
- Jail for 90 to 180 days
- About $3,500 in fines
- 1-year driver’s license revocation
- Probation for up to five years
- Minimum of 30 hours of community service
- Substance abuse evaluation and education
- Use of Ignition Interlock Device for one year
The penalties for a drugged driving conviction the third time around can be harsh. A third offense becomes a Class Four felony if it was committed within seven years of a prior DUI or driving with a suspended license. The penalties include:
- At least four months in prison
- Fines of up to $150,000
- Five-year probation
- Use of Ignition Interlock device for one year
- 3-year license revocation
- Seizure of vehicle
If you ever find yourself charged with drugged driving, your best chance of beating that charge is getting the services of a good drugged driving lawyer in Arizona. Contact the Arizona DUI Team, and you can rest assured that a top Phoenix DUI Drug Lawyer will be handling your case.