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DUI cases that allege drugs or medications tend to take a bit longer than the average alcohol case. It seems that when prosecutors are dealing with an alcohol DUI case, oftentimes they will have breath test results which are immediate to the results that are gained at the time that the person was arrested or soon thereafter.
Prosecutors will often rely on those breath tests, as they don’t have to do any additional testing, although they can choose to also test the blood for alcohol. Sometimes they will decide not to test the blood for alcohol or any other substances, but hold it in reserve just in case the defense brings up any issues with the breath test.
When we’re dealing with drug or medication DUIs, the prosecutor has to test the blood or the urine if a urine sample is taken. We don’t have an equivalent to a breath test as we do with alcohol DUI cases. Depending on which lab is being used, testing the blood for drugs or medication can take quite a long, as it stands right in the municipal courts when they’re dealing with a drug DUI case, they will often take upwards of about 11 months before they actually bring the case against someone because it takes them so long to test for drugs or medications.
When we are dealing with illegal drugs, once the case is brought, it can go a bit faster simply because it is rare to be able to negotiate down a DUI drug case to something like the case being dismissed, reckless driving, or maybe attempted DUI. The reason why is because it’s so simple for the prosecutor to prove their case; simply the presence of an illegal drug and driving is enough to be convicted of a DUI. The prosecutor can but does not need to prove impairment.
Cases that tend to be better to take to trial are those where the person is alleged to be simply taking a prescription medication and having it in their system, or it is alleged that they were impaired by their medication. Those cases tend to go to trial a bit more often and tend to be more successful simply because jurors are used to taking medication and when they are involved into that type of a case they can put themselves in the defendant’s shoes and are a bit more likely to find the person not guilty.
If a few days have passed since the person smoked marijuana, very likely the active substance or the active metabolite will no longer be in the person’s system. They should have a half-life of about two days tops, so we have active THC which should be out of the system within 3 days, and we have the active metabolite of THC which is called Hydroxy-THC, which should be out of the person’s system within a few hours. The inactive metabolite of marijuana which is called Carboxy THC that can remain in the person’s system for upwards of about 45 days.
Fortunately, about a year-and-a-half ago, Arizona Supreme Court came out and said that a DUI based solely on Carboxy THC is not something that someone can be found guilty of. So, the current state of Arizona law is that there is no difference between medical marijuana and recreational, illegal use of marijuana.
There can still be ways in which someone is convicted of a DUI; it is not a defense to use marijuana under the Arizona medical marijuana laws and then drive. Those people, whether they’re using it legally or illegally, can be convicted of a DUI and usually what I tell people is if they are going to be operating a vehicle, don’t do so if you have smoked marijuana legally or illegally within the past 2 days.
The hard drugs or the illegal drugs are treated the same as prescription medications. Obviously there is not going to be a defense to the second counts of DUI that they have the cocaine, marijuana, or methamphetamine in their system. Those types of drugs are not prescribed, and even though Arizona has a medical marijuana law, that technically doesn’t fall into the category of being a prescription. It really doesn’t make sense but the current standing of the law is that hard drugs are treated the same as prescription medications.
For more information on Timeframe of A Drug Related DUI Case, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (480) 442-8343 today.