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AZ Court Says You Don't Have to Be High to Get a DUI

An Arizona appeals court has ruled that marijuana users don't need to be actually impaired to be successfully prosecuted for driving under the influence. The ruling came Tuesday in the case of a man who tested positive for an inactive marijuana metabolite that remains in the body for weeks after the high from smoking marijuana has worn off.

The ruling in Arizona v. Shilgevorkyan overturned a decision by a superior court judge who said that it didn't make sense to prosecute people for driving under the influence if they're not actually under the influence.

The ruling turned on a close reading of legislative intent in writing the state's DUID law. The legislation specified the presence of "the metabolite" of THC, and Shilgevorkyan had argued that lawmakers meant "hydroxy-THC, the metabolite which would indicate current impairment, not carboxy-THC, an inactive metabolite that indicates only usage some time in the past.

The appeals court disagreed, citing its decisions on earlier challenges to the DUID. "The legislature intended to create a 'per se prohibition' and a 'flat ban on driving with any proscribed drug in one's system," the court noted. "We determined that the legislative ban extends to all substances, whether capable of causing impairment or not."

Because the law was drafted to protect public safety, the appeals court said, it should be interpreted broadly to include inactive as well as active compounds.

But Superior Court Commissioner Myra Harris, who had ruled on Shilgevorkyan's behalf, warned in her earlier opinion that the appeals court's interpretation of the law would result in people, including out of state medical marijuana patients, being charged with DUI when they are not impaired.

"Residents of these states, particularly those geographically near Arizona, are likely to travel to Arizona," Harris said in her 2012 ruling upholding the dismissal. "It would be irrational for Arizona to prosecute a defendant for an act that might have occurred outside of Arizona several weeks earlier."

Shilgevorkyan's attorney said he plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Phoenix, AZ
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Per Se Drug Driving Laws will Kill Arizona Tourism

It isn’t just marijuana smokers and medical patients who will be staying away from Arizona.  The mere thought that crazy laws like those involving per se drug driving are enforceable in crummy little fiefdoms like Arizona is enough to keep many others away as well. 

Arizona’s current problems with racist sheriffs and fascist immigration laws are already severe enough to cause it to be considered a flyover state.  CEOs will continue to refuse to locate or relocate companies there.  Arizona residents will leave.  Tourism will flounder.  The state economy will suffer.  By the time Arizonans realize what’s happening to their communities, it will be too late to turn back.  The damage to Arizona’s political credibility and financial status is going to take decades to repair.

This gives these corrupt cops

This gives these corrupt cops and judges every opportunity to pull over cars with CO or WA license plates and get a 55% conviction rate.  Here is an idea!  Just say no to AZ.  Don't spend your money, visit or otherwise invest in such a place.  Marijuana legalization is busting out all over America now.  If you want to follow the money, go where legal marijuana and rational laws exist.  Any states bucking this trend are going to look like a bunch of criminal thugs shaking down ordinary citizens.

Arizona DUI laws

I won't be visiting Arizona at all, not just due to this "You smoked a joint last week so you're driving under the influence. They've got too many other wacko laws to take the chance. No difference than traveling to a Taliban run country & hope you won't be taken hostage for being American. No thanks.

Sobriety = impairment: George Orwell would have had fun w/this

 These judges aren't serious people, they are enforcers for alcohol supremacist thuggery, pure and simple. Hope they need some MMJ real soon. The scientific community and the public health community cover themselves in shame by condoning fascist crap like this. Meanwhile the real drugged driving danger continues to be where it always has been, with drunks, many still getting off easy with their alcohol free pass. If saving lives was what our society cared about, our laws regarding drugs and herbs would look very different.

Drug War Judge

Is it now illegal to drive sober in Arizona ? Will the new charge be DWS ? Sir , you smoked a joint last week and now you are out driving . There is marijuana metabolites in your system . You are sober and under arrest for DWI/DWS . Tell it to the judge . The judge is a clinical sociopath .


I cant believe this surprises many of you. This is the same logic that is used daily across this Country to terminate workers, deny them unemployment benefits, and basically ruin lives. Random urine testing in the workplace is common and accepted. I have seen several people who have given years and years of thier lives to an employer fired in disgrace for failing a random urine test. These are hard working, never missed a day of work in 20 years types of Employees with families that once dismissed can seldom find work again. They have been labeled as Druggies and when applying for new work have a difficult time explaining why thier last job disappeared and never ever get a decent recommendation from the previous employer. 


It is time that we the People stand up. Expose urine testing for the witch hunt that it is, fingering people for historical use instead of impairment. Tests that find metabolites from 45 days ago need to be outlawed, and replaced by tests that find impairment. However the Drug Testing industry has gotten away with this outlandish activity so long it may be very difficult to change the hearts and minds of the masses. Many truly believe that a failed urine test is solid evidence of impairment. They dont understand that these tests have up to a 50% error rate and prove absolutely nothing. 

Let Arizona secede

Let Arizona and the south secede

A goal of this law is to force some people to switch to alcohol

If people pay any attention to the law, some people might abstain from all substance use, but others will switch from weed to booze. And people will get killed and maimed because of it. One more way the war on users of the 'wrong' drugs is insane and out of control.



Arizona is going broke (like most of the U.S.) so it finds ways to steal money from law abiding citizens. What ever happened to the Field Sobriety Test? If I smoked a joint last week I can guarantee I am sober now by walking a perfect straight line and touching my nose etc. The warrantless invasion of blood is the issue here! How about test for MSG or sodium content... after all that junk food cheeseburger may be impairing your judgement!!! This is INSANE!!! I will help fight this insanity all the way to the Supreme Court! As for now, I will be looking for work OUT of Arizona!

I'd fail the walking test

I have very bad knees, and walk with a cane. I can't walk a straight line to save my life, and I'm not impaired by drugs. I'm distracted a lot, sometimes that causes me to drive erratically, but the most danger is when I'm drowsy from road fatigue! There is no sobriety test that can say I'm not fit to drive even when I absolutely should not be driving! In my case common sense is more effective than any test.

Asinine ruling

This is why per se cannabis laws are crap.  The do nothing to test impairment... only that cannabis had been used some time in the past few weeks.

Why was he stopped?

Why was he even stopped in the first place? Was he driving erratically? Was this some kind of random sobriety checkpoint like the police are allowed to set up? These laws will not be effective unless drivers can be tested at random for no observable reason.

More importantly, why'd he

More importantly, why'd he have a urine test? This ruling is extremely unlikely to affect persons merely passing thru AZ. They'd have to get into an accident to be urine tested. Nobody's testing urines at random sobriety stops!

Makes sense in Arizona

But I seriously doubt it would be allowed to stand anywhere else.Even Texans have more sense than this.

Any prescribed drug? Really?

So if this law is to be taken broadly as they say, then I guess you better start pulling anybody over 50 over and taking them to jail for being on any number of prescribed drugs. Like cholesterol medications, blood thinners and any other prescribed drugs.

Clearly being enforced selectively and unconstitutional, where is the equal protection under the law?

The article said proscribed

The article said proscribed meaning banned or banished not prescribed.

Yea except...

Except the voters of AZ legalized medical marijuana 2 years ago- so for those people marijuana IS prescribed, not proscribed ... And they are still affected by this law - what so MM is legal you just can't EVER drive again? Or at least until you're off of it for a couple months ?

proud victory

this is awesome!,now we just need soberity checkpoints where police can force people to take random swab,hair,blood,or urine test. this doesn't volatile the 4th admendment, why you ask? because it deals with drugs and crime,which don't have constitutional rights, this will help weed out the undesirable scums plauging. our christain nation.and if people refuse they get arrested for resistance, and then tested at the jail and get more charges.that's how we defeat drugs and its users who ruin everything.God Bless america and this righteous ruling. Straight Edge 4 Life!

OH'll see dead

OH'll see dead cops and politicians stacked like cordwood! our rights have already been infringed enough without something as patently MORONIC as you suggest!  Law enforcement already has way too much power over regular "civilians" as it is.

Is he serious?

This appeals judge needs to get his judger checked. "Because the law was drafted to protect public safety, the appeals court said, it should be interpreted broadly..." Are you kidding me? Aren't *ALL* laws drafted to protect public safety (in the end)?


"The legislature intended to create a 'per se prohibition' and a 'flat ban on driving with any proscribed drug in one's system, the court noted. We determined that the legislative ban extends to all substances, whether capable of causing impairment or not."


Does this mean I could get a DUI for driving under the influence of Advil? Certainly sounds that way to me. Who are these people kidding?

Law against stupidity

These cops are highly impaired and should be prosecuted for working under the influence of the stupid dumbass metabolite. The appeals court obviously had a double dose. There is no cure for the stupid dumbass metabolite syndrome. Once ingested, it stays in the body....FOREVER...for  ever


agreed  -  having exposure to these types hired (and not aka:SNITCH) in the guise of ' public safety' protection continues to overtake the nation .  The so called drug war is ancient; the 'rule of law' is out of control and continues on its' quest of stupidity ... while ruining the lives of those who have chosen to pursuit happiness,

getting my bike out

i can no longer drive to work, I will ride my bike. Life will be better but I will forever have to drive my LS400 in fear because I live in a police state. Ironically I am getting fantastic weed because I legally donate to a caregiver. driving while 'high' isnt an issue when you are medicated. it provides relief and I would think that texting, smoking cigs, or eating are just as large safety issues. you basically have to be able to pass a drug test just to drive. more enforcement than the pro sports leagues!!

The judge was self-contradictory

If the intent of the law is to promote public safety, then it should only be applicable in cases where public safety is compromised. If the same standard were applied to all sources of impairment, there wouldn't even be marijuana impairment laws. Various studies have found that the maximum impairment of driving skills under the influence of marijuana is comparable to alcohol consumption at the level of a 0.05 BAC some 37% less than the 0,08 BAC standard for impairment by alcohol. Furthermore, that is just on clinical observation of driving skills. If you look at actual emergency room admissions, it turns out that being under the influence of marijuana makes a person LESS likely to need emergency medical care than someone who is straight. This effect has been found to be dose-dependent, with those who smoked more pot being even less likely than those who smoked less. Alcohol had the exact opposite situation. Whereas smoking pot made one's likelihood of admission just 1/3 that of sober people, drinking made that likelihood jump to 3X. These findings are based on all reasons for admission, presumably including traffic accidents.

Given the actual facts regarding the public safety effects of marijuana, this law itself is a sham, and is just another vehicle for persecuting people for their choice of relaxant and medicine. It is just as reprehensible as drug testing on the job, and just as effective in promoting safety. But hey, the prison guards, alcohol manufacturers and sellers, rehab psychologists and counselors, drug testing industry, defense attorneys, and drug kingpins are all against pot legalization for pretty much the same selfish reasons. Drugs remain illegal because they otherwise lose much of their value. Those in power aren't against drug use. They just recognize that keeping drugs illegal maximizes their profit potential.

What about the science

It is not only stupid, but urine test can show three days.  How could they prove impairment with out a much better objective test.

Oh, well

It's a good time to give up driving anyway. The changing climate makes me prefer bicycling.

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