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Drugs, DUIs, and Implied Consent in Arizona

In all states throughout the country, a driver can get a DUI for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, whether they are legal or illegal. According to Arizona law, you cannot operate a vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Keep reading for more information about drugs, DUIs and Arizona law.

Measuring Intoxication

Unlike alcohol, there is no “legal limit” to determine if someone is under the influence based on their blood alcohol content (BAC) level. As long as drug metabolites are found in the driver’s system – even if the driver was not impaired at the time of the arrest – he/she can be charged with a DUI.

When a liver breaks down an ingested drug, the remains are known as drug metabolites. Although some drugs, such as cannabis, can stay in a person’s system for weeks without feeling the effects of the substance, the Arizona court of appeals has recently upheld this law because drug metabolites were present at the time of the arrest.

Alcohol also metabolizes in a specific way at a unique rate which law enforcement will attempt to quantify when charging someone with drunk driving. Field sobriety and breathalyzers measure a person’s level of intoxication by measuring certain signifiers like:

  • Balance
  • The amount of alcohol that has oxidized
  • Vision
  • Coordination
  • Cognition

Prescription Drugs

But what if a driver has a prescription for the drug? While it is perfectly legal to possess prescribed medicine (including medical marijuana), the fact that you are entitled to take a drug in Arizona is not a viable defense for a DUI charge.

Penalties for Drunk and Drugged Driving

The penalties for a drugged driving conviction are the same as an alcohol-related DUI. A first DUI offense is punishable by a maximum jail term of 180 days, probation for up to five years, community service, fines of up to $1,800, and driver’s license suspension for 90 days.

If you are arrested for a DUI in Arizona, the officer will often request that you submit a breath, blood, or even a urine test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). If you refuse to take a post-arrest chemical test, the DMV will suspend your driver’s license.

It is also important to note that law enforcement can pull you over and search your vehicle because of implied consent.

What Is Implied Consent?

According to Arizona’s “implied consent” law, anyone with a state driver’s license automatically consents to BAC testing in the event of a DUI arrest. This means if you withdraw your consent after being arrested for drunk or drugged driving, the DMV will suspend your driving privileges.

The following is a breakdown of the penalties for a breath/blood/urine test refusal:

  • First refusal – Driver’s license suspension for 12 months
  • Second or subsequent refusal – Driver’s license suspension for 24 months

When you refuse, the arresting officer will confiscate your license and give you an “order of suspension” that carries a 15-day suspension period from the date of your arrest. The 15-day period gives you an opportunity to request a hearing with the DMV and challenge the suspension. While you wait for your hearing, you are allowed to drive until then.

Hearings for DUIs

At the hearing, the arresting officer will appear and testify in front of the hearing officer. The officer must show that he/she had reasonable grounds to believe you were operating or in actual physical control of a vehicle while impaired, you refused to take the post-arrest chemical test, and you were given warnings of the consequences for refusal, as well as a notice of your right to request a DMV hearing.

If the hearing officer rules in your favor or the police officer does not appear, your suspension will be overturned. On the other hand, if the hearing officer upholds your suspension, you will have 30 days to file a petition with the superior court to challenge the DMV’s ruling.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Yuma and your driver’s license has been suspended, Territorial Law, LLC today at (928) 783-8879 to discuss your case. Get more than 100 years of combined legal experience on your side!

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