Feb 222013

By Linda Kor
An appeals court has issued a ruling that will continue to allow all marijuana metabolites to be included when determining if someone is driving under the influence (DUI), even if the marijuana was ingested weeks before the incident. The ruling is the latest one related to a Maricopa County incident in which a sheriff’s deputy detained Hrach Shilgevorkyan for excessive speed and making an unsafe lane change. Shilgevorkyan agreed to a DUI test and was charged with two counts of DUI when he tested positive for marijuana metabolites in his system. It was later determined that the metabolites found in Shilgevorkyan’s system were from marijuana ingested weeks prior to being pulled over and could not have caused impaired driving at the time of the incident.
Although two lower courts ruled in favor of Shilgevorkyan and dismissed the charges, the state continued with the case to the Arizona Appeals Court, which overturned the ruling stating that, according to the law, any drug or its metabolite found in the system of a driver who appears to be even slightly impaired is grounds for charges of DUI.
That outcome means medical marijuana patients who are suspected of driving impaired will not be excluded from potential DUI charges. In part the ruling stated, “The AMMA’s (Arizona Medical Marijuana Act) adoption is immaterial to the determination of legislative intent as it relates to adoption of the DUI statutes.”