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Arizona Supreme Court Overrules "Zero Tolerance" Marijuana DUI Standard

Posted by Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney | Apr 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

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Much of the country is focused on the western U.S. to see where the winds of change are blowing regarding the acceptance of marijuana in society. Colorado has already begun selling recreational pot legally, and Washington is gearing up to do the same this summer.

But one other Western state reported marijuana-related news this week. On Tuesday, according to various news agencies, the Arizona Supreme Court struck down what was referred to as the state's "zero tolerance" DUI law involving pot. The law, which had been upheld in an appellate court, had permitted officers to arrest, charge, and convict Arizona drivers of driving under the influence even if mere traces of the drug were found in the blood or urine of suspects.

The ruling was important because Arizona approved the use and sale of medical marijuana within the state in 2010. But because of the rigidity of the law, prosecutors were advising medical pot users not to drive at all, because of a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana that could remain in the body for days after consuming the drug.

Under the law, Arizonans could still be slapped with a DUI -  even if they didn't show any signs of impairment while driving. The court clarified the law, stating that since the harmless compound does not cause impairment, its presence should not be used to punish drivers. Prior to the ruling, Arizona had been one of only eight states with so-called "zero tolerance" rules regarding DUI and pot.

Michigan's Supreme Court issued a similar ruling last year that required some evidence of impairment when marijuana was detected after a traffic stop.

About the Author

Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney

Highly rated by former clients, who praise his warm, knowledgeable courtside manner and his fierce determination to reduce or eliminate charges. An accomplished speaker, author, and leader in DUI defense statewide Kevin is well respected by judges, prosecutors, and other attorneys across the State of Washington for his expertise, integrity, and knowledge in the complicated forensic science area of impaired driving allegations.

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