Marijuana DUI Lawyer in Arizona

Top Rated Arizona Cannabis DUI Lawyer

Arizona is a zero-tolerance state for DUI, with harsh mandatory minimums for anyone convicted of a DUI, whether for drugs, alcohol, prescription drugs, or legal marijuana. A conviction for DUI for weed can lead to jail time, fines, and license suspension.

If you’re facing charges under the DUI for weed laws and need a marijuana DUI lawyer in Arizona, contact us at the Law Office of Karl A. Mueller, PLC. We’ve defended clients charged with criminal traffic violations for over 25 years. Call us today at 602-697-8761 or contact us online.

How Does Arizona Define a Weed DUI?

If a police officer suspects that you are driving impaired, they can pull you over and administer a series of tests to determine if you are driving under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, or other drugs. For non-alcohol DUIs, officers must obtain a warrant to get a blood sample.

Under Arizona law ARS 28-1381, drivers are impaired if their blood test results show any trace of active THC or marijuana metabolites. Metabolites are substances produced as byproducts of the metabolic processes that break down marijuana in your system.

The issue with this zero-tolerance definition of impairment is that some marijuana metabolites can remain in your system for 30 days or more after you last consumed marijuana—long after the impairing effects of the drug have worn off.

While the Arizona Supreme Court has narrowed the definition of which metabolites are valid for a weed DUI conviction, the arresting police officer won’t know which metabolites are in your blood until the blood test results come back from the lab. Your case may be subject for dismissal if you have particular metabolites, but not others, in your system at the time of your arrest.

What Is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI Charge in Arizona?

You may have also heard the term DWI, or driving while intoxicated. While both DUI and DWI can apply to alcohol, DWI is strictly for driving under the influence of alcohol. Additionally, while DUI for alcohol allows a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08% (without obvious signs of impairment), the law allows for no minimum amount of THC to qualify you for a weed DUI.

DUI charges can apply for several different substances, including:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription drugs
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamines
  • Heroin or other opiates

The primary factor in a DUI charge is whether or not a police officer suspects you of impairment. Arizona maintains strict policies against operating a motor vehicle while impaired, including by prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

Prescription pain pills are opioids that affect signals transmitted throughout your nervous system, sometimes affecting your balance and causing drowsiness. Benadryl can make you drowsy, slowing your reaction time and making you a danger to yourself, pedestrians, and other drivers. Even caffeine can cause anxiety and heart palpitations, increasing your risk-taking behaviors.

If officers suspect you of impairment, the consequences of a conviction can follow you for years. Contact us today at the Law Office of Karl A. Mueller, PLC, to consult with a marijuana DUI lawyer in Arizona if you have been charged with a DUI for weed.

A Marijuana DUI Traffic Stop Procedure

When a police officer pulls you over for suspected impairment, they can do so for any reason, including:

  • Erratic driving
  • Swerving
  • Speeding
  • Driving too slowly
  • Failing to signal
  • Failing to stop or yield
  • Causing or nearly causing an accident

The officer who pulled you over will look for signs of impairment during your interactions, including redness in your eyes, slurred or sluggish speech, hand-eye coordination, mental acuity, and how you grip the steering wheel. If they continue to suspect impairment, they may request additional testing from a certified drug recognition expert (DRE) officer.

DREs are officers certified in recognizing impairment by certain drugs, including marijuana. They will conduct additional tests to determine if you are under the influence of marijuana.

If the officers at the scene feel they have probable cause, they will arrest you for driving under the influence of marijuana. Officers must first get a warrant before obtaining a blood sample for a THC and metabolite blood test. You also have the right to request that an independent lab test your blood sample.

Arizona has a 2 ng/ml THC limit for marijuana DUI, a very low allowance. Many frequent or habitual marijuana users have a natural concentration level above 5 ng/ml.

A marijuana DUI lawyer with our firm can help you understand more about marijuana impairment traffic stops and determine if your arresting officer followed appropriate procedures during your arrest.

Impairment vs. Presence of Metabolites

The active ingredient in marijuana that leads to impairment is Delta-9 THC. During the metabolization of Delta-9 THC, the first metabolite product is 11-hydroxy-THC. This metabolite can also impair users after conversion of all Delta-9 THC.

Further metabolization creates a secondary metabolite called 9-carboxy-THC. This metabolite does not cause impairment. If your blood test returns only 9-carboxy-THC, your defense attorney can file for dismissal of your marijuana DUI.

In State ex rel. Montgomery v. Harris (Shilgevorkyan), 234 Ariz. 343 (2014), the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the presence solely of the non-impairing 9-carboxy-THC metabolite should exclude defendants from marijuana DUI charges.

The primary concern when using metabolites to measure impairment by marijuana is in the time it takes for all marijuana metabolites to exit your system. As we noted earlier, some metabolites can remain in your system for 30 days or more.

Before the 2014 ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court, language in ARS 28-1381(A)(1) and ARS 28-1381(A)(3) held that any amount of Delta-9 THC or any marijuana metabolites constituted impairment by their presence in a blood test. Since the ruling, the court now maintains that the presence of only 9-carboxy-THC does not constitute impairment under the law.

For more information about how your blood test results could affect your case, contact us today at the Law Office of Karl A. Mueller, PLC. An experienced marijuana DUI lawyer with our firm can review your case and determine if your blood test results make you eligible to file for dismissal.

Consequences of Convictions for Marijuana DUIs

If convicted of a marijuana DUI, you face license suspension, jail time, probation, and more. DUI convictions add eight points to your license. Additionally, Arizona does not offer expungement from your record for a conviction. Instead, the state may allow you to “set aside” any convictions if you uphold your sentencing requirements.

Expungement and setting aside convictions are not the same. Expungement seals arrest and court records as if the crime never happened. The court setting aside your conviction maintains the record but shows that you served your sentence. The court also vacates the judgment and dismisses the charges.

The severity of sentencing depends on whether this is your first offense or if it is your second offense within seven years.

First Offense

Regardless of if your DUI is for marijuana or another substance, the mandatory minimums and maximums are the same for any DUI charge. For a first-time offender, sentencing includes:

  • Eight points on your license and required Traffic Survival School (TSS)
  • Minimum of 10 days in jail up to 180 days
  • Probation of up to five years
  • Alcohol and drug screening
  • Compliance with court-ordered alcohol or drug treatment
  • Approximately $2,000 in fines and other costs
  • Up to three years of required SR-22 insurance
  • 90 days driving privilege suspension
  • Community service
  • (Varies) Interlock system to start your vehicle required for 6-12 months

If you agree to complete drug and alcohol education courses, the court may suspend nine of your ten days in jail. Additionally, after not driving at all for the first 30 days, you may be able to apply for a restricted license to drive to work or school for the remaining 60 days of your suspension.

The court can order ignition interlock devices for any DUI case at its discretion, although it only requires them for alcohol-related convictions. If the court orders that you use an ignition interlock system, you may only need to use it for six months.

Second Offense

If you have a prior DUI from any time within the previous seven years, for any substance including marijuana, the mandatory minimums are much stricter. For a second offense, you could face:

  • Eight points on your license and required Traffic Survival School (TSS)
  • Jail time between 90 days and 180 days
  • Approximately $5,000 in fines and other costs
  • Up to three years of required SR-22 insurance
  • 12 months driving privilege suspension
  • Community service (30 hours minimum)
  • (Varies) Interlock system to start your vehicle required for 12 months

If the court hearing your case offers home detention, you may only have to serve a minimum of six days in jail. To qualify, you must agree to complete drug and alcohol education and assessments. People with second convictions for DUI may go to work while under home confinement if your court system offers the option.

For cases heard in courts that don’t offer home detention, you must serve a minimum time in jail of 30 days. You may participate in a work-release program after 48 hours of serving your time.

You may apply after 45 days for a restricted license to drive to work, school, medical appointments, and to comply with court orders. You must agree to use an interlock system on your vehicle for approval for your restricted license.

Third Offense and Beyond

A third offense for DUI in seven years is a class four felony, automatically upgraded to aggravated DUI. Penalties for a felony DUI include:

  • Eight points on your license and required Traffic Survival School (TSS)
  • A minimum of four months in a state prison
  • At least $4,000 in fines
  • Alcohol and drug screening
  • Compliance with court-ordered alcohol or drug treatment
  • License suspension for three years
  • Ignition interlock device for two years

You will have to face not just felony criminal charges in criminal court but will also need to attend and argue an administrative MVD hearing.

Your Rights in Marijuana DUIs

Remember that you have rights when facing criminal charges in a court of law. Your rights include:

  • The right to an attorney
  • The right not to testify against yourself
  • The right not to disclose your activities from earlier in the day or week with the arresting officer
  • The right to request an independent blood test

For more information about your rights in criminal DUI proceedings, contact our office to schedule a free consultation about your case with an experienced defense attorney for marijuana DUI.

Defenses Against a Marijuana DUI

There are several methods for your marijuana DUI lawyer to build a defense for your DUI for weed case. The police officer making the arrest may have failed to follow due process or could have impinged on your rights. The police department may not have acquired a valid warrant for a blood sample. You may have never taken control of the vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.

There are several potential defenses available to fight marijuana DUI charges, including:

  • Your previous DUI charges occurred more than seven years ago, were dismissed, or were reduced
  • The defendant never assumed control of the vehicle, to include steering, holding the keys, or turning the keys in the ignition
  • No reasonable cause existed for the traffic stop by the arresting police officer
  • Errors occurred by the police department’s lab in testing the blood sample
  • The arresting officer failed to administer Miranda rights or incorrectly administered field sobriety tests
  • Insufficient probable cause for the arrest exists
  • The lab tech performing the blood test had a lapse in certification
  • The defendant had a medical condition that led to vertigo, seizure, tremors, or diabetic symptoms, leading the police to suspect intoxication or being under the influence of marijuana
  • The police officers involved in the arrest and processing committed some misconduct

Charged with a Weed DUI? Contact Our Marijuana DUI Lawyer Today

If you need help from a marijuana DUI lawyer, contact us at the Law Office of Karl A. Mueller, PLC, at 602-697-8761 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.


1760 E. Pecos Road, Suite 332 Gilbert, AZ 85295


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