The Law Offices of John Phebus

Drugged DUI in Arizona

When you hear DUI, you likely think of drinking and driving, but "under the influence" has more than one meaning. Arizona has rejected the passage of Prop 205, the law that would have allowed recreational marijuana, but it doesn't remove the instances of drugged driving and allegations of this behavior.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs/Controlled Substances

Arizona Revised Statutes § 28-1381 defines driving or controlling a motor vehicle while under the influence. It includes alcohol, drugs, and even vapor releasing substances. The key component in A.R.S. § 28-1381 (A)(1) is whether or not the motorist is impaired by the substance in question. This means that you can be charged with DUI even if the substance that caused your impairment is legal medication prescribed to you. Naturally, illegal drugs and medication for which you have no prescription lead to additional charges and likely harsher penalties

Driving After Taking Drugs

It's important to understand that actual impairment isn't the only criteria necessary to be charged with drugged DUI. In A.R.S. § 28-1381 (A)(3), the law states that just having evidence of specific drugs and/or metabolites in your body is grounds for a conviction. This is referred to as a per se violation. The drugs specified can be found under A.R.S. §13-3401, which include the following:

  • Cannabis in all its forms
  • Narcotics, such as methadone, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone
  • Prescription medications without a valid prescription, such as Ambien
  • Dangerous drugs, such as cocaine, meth, crack, Molly, and heroine

How LEO Suspects Drugged DUI

The first thing a police officer typically does when he suspects that you are impaired due to drugs or medication is to perform a field sobriety test. If he believes your "results" indicate that you have taken drugs, he can then request a urine or blood test. As with all suspected DUI offenses, you are legally required to comply in accordance with implied consent.

But how does a law enforcement officer make the initial call for a drugged DUI? This can be a very gray area. LEO undergoes various impairment recognition programs that are meant to train them to "spot" behavior that indicates impairment or suspected drug use, but the validity of these evaluations is often challenged, and rightly so. The science is suspect, and the results vary too greatly to be dependable on a consistent basis.

A skilled Arizona DUI defense attorney will review all aspects of the traffic stop and subsequent arrest. He can challenge the admissibility of the evidence provided, and assert any available affirmative defenses against this type of DUI. The law in this area is complex, so it's a good idea to seek the help of a lawyer with knowledge of drugged DUI.


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