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Driving with a Medical Marijuana Card in Arizona

What Happens if you are Pulled Over and have a Medical Marijuana Card?

Like 23 other states in the United States as of January 2016, Arizona has legalized use of medical marijuana by patients prescribed cannabis by their doctor. Some states like Alaska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon have legalized marijuana for recreational use, as well. Sixteen other states are working on legislation to permit recreational use. But as of right now, Arizona does not permit citizens to engage in recreational use. Over 80,000 residents of Arizona possess a medical marijuana card.

Even just with medical marijuana legalization, law enforcement officers are challenged in trying to ensure the public is safe from impaired drivers. These officers are continually working to find more effective means of determining when drivers are intoxicated or impaired following marijuana use, just as field sobriety tests and breathalyzers can be used in the field when drunk driving is suspected.

If you are charged with impaired driving with or without a medical marijuana card, it is important to ensure you are protected through the support and guidance of an experienced Arizona attorney familiar with medical marijuana and motor vehicle laws.

While state and local police work to better detect impaired driving on Arizona roadways, Swedish scientists are developing field tests for detection of drugs like cocaine, heroin and marijuana. Until those innovations or others like them are on the market, the only way to determine whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana is to have them perform a blood or urine test. Processing these tests can take as long as several months.


Using Medical Marijuana in Arizona

Medical marijuana legalization is designed to help Arizona residents in severe, chronic pain. Many are patients of cancer and other diseases, or those suffering from other types of otherwise untreatable chronic pain. Marijuana can be useful as treatment when other options, such as prescribed painkillers, are more addictive and pose greater long-term risk to health.

Under the law, medical marijuana users can use up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per week. This use can be in the form of dried plant, edibles or other marijuana derivatives. Both patients and their caregivers must sign a statement affirming they will not distribute their allotted medical marijuana to others. They are also subjected to fingerprinting for law enforcement records.

In 2012, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act was revised to make use or possession of medical marijuana illegal on or near college campuses, school buses, high schools, preschools, correctional facilities and public spaces. Even if you have a medical marijuana card, you cannot carry or use medical marijuana for pain relief in these places.

However, people on probation for crimes can still use medical marijuana with a valid medical marijuana card, despite not being able to legally possess other intoxicants.


Penalties for Marijuana DUI in Arizona

The first marijuana DUI offense is charged as a misdemeanor, but carries penalties very much like those of a drunk driving conviction.

Convicted for a first offense DUI drugs charge may receive:

  • Up to ten days in jail
  • Suspension of their driver’s license for up to 90 days
  • Mandatory drug screening, counseling, education or treatment
  • Fees and fines of $1250
  • Community service
  • Probation

A second offense of marijuana DUI carries stiffer penalties, despite still being a misdemeanor:

  • Minimum of three months in jail, 30 days consecutively
  • Revocation of driver’s license for a year
  • Fines and fees of $3,000
  • Mandatory drug screening, counseling, education or treatment
  • Probation
  • Community service

Under AZ DUI laws, a third offense is charged as an Aggravated DUI, a felony, if it occurs within seven years of the prior two offenses. Penalties include:

  • Minimum of four months in prison
  • Eight months in prison for 4th and subsequent offenses
  • Fees and fines of $4,000
  • Revocation of driver’s license for three years
  • Possible forfeiture of personal vehicle
  • Mandatory drug screening, education, counseling or treatment
  • Parole or probation
  • Community service

Experienced Medical Marijuana DUI Attorneys Provide the Help You Need

If you have been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, it is important that you gain the help and advice of an experienced Arizona medical marijuana attorney. There are multiple mechanisms for defending a medical marijuana DUI case, particularly since marijuana testing reveals positive results for multiple weeks after use of the last dose. Through the services of an experienced attorney, you can gain the defense you need to overcome charges or receive the best possible outcome as a result of your case.

Contact the Law Offices of David Michael Cantor at 602-307-0808 for a free consultation to discuss your case today. With the right Arizona criminal attorney on your side, you can gain a more favorable judgment for your medical marijuana DUI charges.

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