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Interviewer: What are some common misconceptions that people have about drug cases?
A Prescription for Marijuana or Medication Is Not a Complete Defense to Charge Such as DUI
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: There are a number of misconceptions about medical marijuana. Some of those misconceptions include thinking that if you have the card, it’s a complete defense to a DUI. Or, if you have a prescription for certain prescription drugs then it is a complete defense.
In Arizona they don’t view it that way. If you have any drug or metabolite in your system, you are charged with two counts.
Under count one they will allege that the person was driving and that their ability to drive was impaired to the slightest degrees by the consumption of illegal drugs or use of prescription medications.
Under count two, they will allege that someone was driving with a drug or medication that was not being taken as prescribed or was not prescribed at all.
Having a prescription and using it as prescribed, is a defense only to count two of DUI. The count one of being impaired to the slightest degree can still go forward even though the person was taking their medications as prescribed.
What to Avoid If You Are Facing Drug-Related Charges
Interviewer: What are some things clients have done to hurt their case? What have you observed?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: Most people feel scared when they’re pulled over so they automatically admit to having drugs in the car or they admit to have seen it. There are certain times where people feel the need to tell officers everything.
You always have the right to remain silent and to consult with an attorney prior to incriminating yourself. You can be cooperative with officers without incriminating yourself.
When Does Law Enforcement Have the Right to Search A Vehicle?
Interviewer: What can you tell us about illegal search and seizures or illegal warrants? Are police officers generally aware that they do this?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: The scope of the search depends on the reason the police stopped the car. In general, there are three types of vehicle searches:
1. A “search incident to arrest,” which allows a search of the immediate vicinity of the driver (in other words, where he can reach inside the car) when the police have grounds to place the driver under arrest
2. An inventory search, which is allowed when the police arrest a driver and impound the car (to list the items in the car in order to avoid civil liability for the loss or damage of the car owner’s property), and
3. A probable cause search, which is allowed where the police have a reasonable suspicion that a weapon or evidence of the crime for which they stopped the driver may be found (this search would include a pat-down of the driver for weapons or contraband).
Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) on the Police Force
Interviewer: Are police officers specially trained to deal with drug-related cases?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: Yes, they have drug reconnection experts. The Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) evaluates individuals suspected to be under the influence of drugs, including alcohol. They take the person into a dark room and examine them for things such as blood pressure, pulse rate and pupil size and then make an opinion based o their findings.