Is the Thought of Charging a Sober Person With a DUI Complete Nonsense?

Categories: Morning Poll
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Nickel Bag of Funk via Flickr


Before the Arizona Supreme Court, people were actually arguing over whether stone-cold sober people can be convicted of DUI.

This issue was explored in a New Times cover story earlier this year: the state's "zero tolerance" law against a person driving with the slightest trace of marijuana in their system -- which can be the result of pot smoked weeks beforehand.

See also:
-Riding High: Arizona's Zero-Tolerance Stance on Pot and Driving
-Montgomery Prosecuting a Medical-Pot Patient for One Piece of THC-Infused Candy

The subject of this case, Hrach Shilgevorkyan, was charged with a marijuana DUI after a blood test revealed no active THC in his system. It did reveal an inactive metabolite of THC, though.

The presence of that inactive metabolite has nothing to do with any potential impairment.

A judge eventually dismissed the case, but the Maricopa County Attorney's Office appealed it, as the case eventually landed at the state Supreme Court.

Prosecutors have argued that this was actually the intent of the Legislature. Essentially, they've argued that if you smoke a joint -- medical marijuana patient, or not -- you are forbidden from driving, probably for a few days, and possibly up to a month. Really?

Here's what Capitol Media Services reported yesterday from the Supreme Court:
A prosecutor argued Tuesday there's nothing wrong with charging a motorist who smoked marijuana up to a month earlier with driving while drugged. In arguments to the Arizona Supreme Court, Susan Luder, a deputy Maricopa County attorney, acknowledged that Carboxy-THC, a secondary metabolite of marijuana, can show up in blood tests for a month after someone has used the drug. And she did not dispute the concession of her own expert witness that the presence of that metabolite does not indicate someone is impaired. But Luder told the justices the Legislature is legally entitled to declare that a positive blood test for Carboxy-THC can be used to prosecute someone who, if convicted, can lose a driver's license for a year.
Does that sound like complete nonsense to you? Do you think that the Legislature actually intended to convict sober people of DUI, and prosecutors should charge people as such?

Cast your vote below:


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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.


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31 comments
hempaz
hempaz

It's time to stop the insanity in Az... Arizonans to approve industrial hemp cultivation in Nov 2014 C=> http://medmj.us/AmendmentXXXI #GotHemp? #Please #ReTweet

markymark2112
markymark2112

This is what happens when you allow the police to become the largest criminal gang in country doing whatever they want whenever they want. This has all gone to far, they are murdering innocent people with impunity we must stand up and fight these crooks. They just get worse and worse everyday.

samismith88
samismith88

This is happening all over as because the law system is corrupt.  All about making around 3 grand per dui held up in court so the DUI task force has money to keep on ticking.  I have heard this from several cops who are my friends and know I am a huge pot head..  They have clearly told me how corupt it is and if I drive AT ALL within months of smoking and get pulled over I will most likely land a DUI do to being profiled as  a "pothead".  fuck az police and fuck this law, karma will bite them all in the ass.

MasterKrymsun
MasterKrymsun

I expect the prosecutor doesn't wish to appear 'soft on crime', the usual cop-out. The law was, of course, specifically written, not only to 'cover all the bases', so as not to hamper enforcement, but also because lawyers love nit-picking details by which they can make even a bogus case. The only criteria should be impairment. Let me repeat that: the ONLY criteria should be definite, provable impairment, not evidence of possible impairment, much less evidence of the presence of a carboxy-THC metabolite which does not itself indicate someone is impaired.

Shouldn't the questions regarding marijuana now be determined by science, "not ideology", as suggested by no less than the federal administration. . or didn't Susan Luder, deputy Maricopa County attorney get the memo?

dswallin
dswallin

This law has been on the books in AZ for years and has been repeatedly upheld by the appellate courts.  It never made much sense; previous cases, in effect, have said, "You weren't supposed to be smoking weed at all, so you have nothing to complain about."  Which, of course, is a non-sequitur.  But it makes even less sense when the defendant has a medical MJ card, or is someone visiting (or returning) from Colorado, where it's completely legal.  But this case isn't those cases, and the prosecution will almost certainly win.  Does that sound like complete nonsense?  Yes, but this is Arizona.  Do you think that the Legislature actually intended to convict sober people of DUI?  Yes, but this is Arizona.  Oh, and AZ judges in Yavapai and other counties are routinely telling probationers w/ MMJ cards that using MMJ will be a violation of their probation. 

McShyster
McShyster

Arizona DESERVES these kinds of abusive laws -- as payback for repeatedly electing and re-electing abusive lawmakers, prosecutors and sheriffs.

Reap what ye sow, suckers.

dkessler4
dkessler4

This is complete and utter nonsense that allows the party of hate and intolerance to persecute any it wishes.  In Deming, NM, recently more than one motorist has been subjected to not just searches but actual colonoscopies to look for drugs.  No apology when no drugs were found and those "accused" were responsible for the medical bills.  If these and other searches for metabolites that in no way, shape or form perform some positive societal purpose they most certainly are not to be permitted in a free country and we most certainly should not continue to tell our children that the US is free.

stella.james164
stella.james164

<!--til I saw the bank draft four $4519, I didn't believe ...that...my brother was like they say truly making money part-time at their laptop.. there uncle haz done this for only about eighteen months and a short time ago repaid the debts on their house and bourt Bugatti Veyron. this is where I went........................ Buzz55.ℂom-->

mikeandpamavitts
mikeandpamavitts

what about the people prescribed marinol pure synthetic thc and legally prescribed in all 50 states by doctors 


drjbrungus
drjbrungus

Wow this prosecutor is a real asshole. Perhaps she should take a step back and try to look at just what she's arguing without her head stuck firmly up her ass, then she might realize how ridiculous this is and what a waste of time and taxpayer money it is.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

I small class action lawsuit - there must be THOUSANDS of these types of cases over the years!  Each case is probably worth at least $20,000.00 to the Defendants who were wrongly charged, convicted and had their lives ruined. 

I hope some enterprising young attorney puts ads in the newspapers and on the internet and asks for all such persons and/or their families (if the person died since they had their lives ruined) and put together a HUGE class action lawsuit - this could potentially cost the State and Counties where this injustice occurred MILLIONS of dollars.

Just plain common sense should have told the prosecutors not to pursue these cases - let's get a ruling in the Supreme Court that these asshats deserve to be stripped of their badges, bar membership and put to work in marijuana grows around the state for minimum wage!

Dontbelieveit
Dontbelieveit

There are some people that can drive flawlessly and be blitzed and not show signs of impairment..........then there are those that take just one toke  and cant do ANYTHING BUT LAUGH!..........OFFICER:your eyes are really bloodshot ....have you been smoking marijuana? Driver: your eyes look GLAZED have you been eating donuts?

robert_graham
robert_graham

Absolutely not!  A sober person cannot be charged with DUI.

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

Get ready to open your wallets Maricopa County taxpayers, I see another huge settlement coming from the County due to this bullshit.

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

This is just an example of the twisted logic inherent in the war on drugs. This from the same people who say that medical "Marijuana" is OK but medical "Cannabis" is not?????????????

john043012
john043012 topcommenter

This is another money generator for local cities and towns that's it and nothing else. States are so hard up for money the will suspend your driving privileges if they find out you bounced a check 20 years ago at grocery store and once you pay back the money on the bounced check along with court costs you have to pay additional money to motor vehicles to get you license reinstated. They will suspend your license for anything just so they can generate money

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

You can see from results of the poll that baggers actually read Phoenix New Times. As for prosecuting recreational potheads, NO. Not if the "suspect" passes a field sobriety test. However, s/he had better not have the slightest hint of pot breath. Now, I'm just wonderin' how the alleged drugged driver got the cops' attention.

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

Arizona is so backwards that it actually moves forward in the opposite direction.

Anything to keep the private prisons full is Arizona's motto.

markymark2112
markymark2112

@mikeandpamavitts Of course they can charge you with impaired for that. They can charge you with impaired for any prescribed narcotic.

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@robert_graham  sober doesnt mean you arent "driving under the influence"   I dont know how old you are Robert or where you grew up, but there used to be different laws, there was DUI and DWI (driving while intoxicated) there was a difference between the two charges but now they are lumped up together and are as a general rule misunderstood as to their meaning. "driving under the influence" can mean anything from pot, acid, exstasy, prescription drugs or even alcohol. its all in the wording "under the influence" is a vague term and could be argued to cover medical marijuana very easily since it can impair your judgement. if you have a Medical marijuana card, most companies still wont let you drive their vehicles or equipment because you are still under the influence and their insurance wouldnt cover them if something happened

sirandyinga
sirandyinga

@Cozz Yes everyone should be allowed to drive while they are stoned.

66rock
66rock topcommenter

@Cozz  Yes that for sure, keep them full!  Most likely it is just another chapter in the GOP's far right quest to get rid of the marijuana law that they hate. The MC Attorney is one of those crazies and the county board is not effective in overseeing anything. Our sheriff is proof of that.  What DOES that county board do anyway besides let our tax money be wasted? 


One_Pro_Se
One_Pro_Se

@Cozz because three prisons here have 100% capacity contracts with the State of Arizona or else the tax payers have to pay a "low-crime-tax" on those empty beds on top of the regular contract price for the empty bed.

Shit starting to make sense now folks?!?!?



Follow the money Matt ;) you got this 

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

@danzigsdaddy  

Actually anything over .50 is DWI and anything under .50 you can be charged with DUI when it comes to alcohol I believe.
 Or is it the other way around ?


lullie76
lullie76

yeah, so they can laugh at their stupidity, ignorance and lies

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

@sirandyinga @Cozz

You really are a dumbass aren't you. Read the story again or have someone explain it to you.

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

@One_Pro_Se @Cozz

Not to mention how much money these private prison officials are pouring into the campaigns of Arizona politicians to buy their votes.

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