Arizona court rules on DUI law for marijuana users

Arizona court rules on DUI law for marijuana users

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A valley man pulled over by police for a traffic violation told officers that he had smoked marijuana the night before.

Blood tests later confirmed marijuana compounds in his system, but not the ones that would leave him impaired the next day. Despite the evidence, he was charged with DUI.

A ruling Tuesday by the Arizona Supreme Court is going to clear up a gray area in DUI laws that didn't differentiate which compounds of the drug make someone impaired.

The justices typically take two months to rule on a case but they took nearly five months to decide this case. The justices ruling says that someone cannot be charged with DUI just for having traces of marijuana in their blood which can remain for weeks after they've used it.
    
The Arizona Supreme Court ruling is a victory for valley attorney Michael Alarid III. He argued the case before the justices on behalf of his client
who was pulled over in 2010 and charged with DUI for having traces of marijuana metabolite in his system.

"So for him it means his case is dismissed and he is no longer subject to prosecution for it. For anyone who is in the same boat it means dismissal of their case as well," said Alarid III.

The court ruling only applies to those who's blood shows the "inactive metabolite" of THC in their system in other words they are not impaired. Before Tuesday's ruling one could still have been legally charged with DUI even up to a month after ingesting marijuana.

"It was really an error in the law and an error in the way the statute was being interpreted and the Supreme Court now corrected that mistake and they've got it right," he said.

But Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery told reporters today he is not happy with the court's four to one decision

"The Supreme Court today has now muddied those waters because until today it was very clear. By ruling the way that the court did we're actually inviting people to kind of game when all active metabolites that would lead to impairment might be out of their system," said Montgomery.

Alarid argued there is no need to charge people for DUI if there are no signs of impairment. "It no longer allows for prosecution for people that are not and cannot be impaired by what they're driving around with which is the just thing," he said.

No word tonight if the state will challenge the Supreme Court ruling, and it's also not clear if this will have any effect on people who were convicted on these charges in the past.
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