Drug Law

Smoking Pot Weeks Earlier Is Enough For DUI Charge, Says Maricopa County Prosecutor

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Susan Luder told the Arizona Supreme Court Tuesday that smoking marijuana days or even weeks before driving is enough to warrant a charge of driving under the influence.

Luder argued that Maricopa was in the right when it charged a man with a DUI after a traffic violation, after they found Carboxy-THC, a secondary metabolite of marijuana, in his blood. That metabolite would show up in the blood of a person who smoked weed for a month afterwards, reported Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services.

A lower court judge originally threw out the DUI charge.

Luder didn’t dispute testimony given by her own expert witness that the presence of Carboxy-THC doesn’t mean the person is impaired.

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She still asserted that anyone testing positive for Carboxy-THC should be prosecuted and lose their driver’s license for a year if convicted.

Chief Justice Rebecca Berch argued that Luder’s logic would go so far as to prosecute a person a year or even five years after smoking the drug.

“But that’s up to the Legislature to decide,” Luder argued.

Arizona banned driving with any trace of Carboxy-THC in the blood.

The pending ruling could decide if 40,000 Arizonians prescribed legal medical marijuana are not effectively banned from driving, given how long Carboxy-THC  hangs around in the bloodstream.

The Arizona Supreme Court did not indicate when it could be expected to rule on the case, meanwhile four cities voted Tuesday to remove penalties for marijuana possession.

Sources: ThinkProgress, Raw Story, Arizona Daily Star