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