Drug DUI


An individual can be convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in Arizona for driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. While most attention in the media and the public is given to driving while intoxicated, driving while drugged is on the rise. The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reports that from 2003 to 2013, the annual number of DUI arrests for drug use went from 221 to 2048 – a 927% increase. The number of DUI drug arrests increased every year except for 2013, when statistics showed a decrease from a high of 4,504 arrests in 2012. Drug DUI arrests accounted for 14% of all DUI arrests in 2013.

Arizona law contains two sections that address the drug DUI charge. Ariz. Rev. Stat. 28-1381(A)(1) states that it is illegal for anyone to drive or be in control of a vehicle while impaired to the slightest degree by alcohol, any drug, or toxic vapor-releasing substance, or any combination of the three. Section 28-1381(A)(3) makes it illegal for a person to drive while any illegal drug listed in Section 13-3401 is in that person’s body. The drugs listed in Section 13-3401 include cannabis, cocaine, hallucinogens, or other dangerous illegal drugs. If an individual was legally entitled to use the drug (i.e., pursuant to a prescription given by a medical practitioner), that fact is a defense to a charge under paragraph (A)(3), but not paragraph (A)(1). In other words, even if you are using a valid prescription medication, you cannot drive while it is in your system if it impairs your driving. Simply driving while using a prescription medicine is not sufficient basis to support a DUI charge if you are driving safely.

In addition, Arizona is an implied consent law. This means that when you drive in Arizona you are deemed to have consented to a test administered by a police officer to determine if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you refuse to submit to a test, your license may be suspended for 12 months for the first refusal, and 24 months for a second refusal within 84 months.

A drug DUI is a class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties are the same as for misdemeanor alcohol DUIs. First violations of these crimes are punishable by a minimum jail sentence of ten days; a minimum fine of $250, plus additional assessments of $1000; an order to equip the car with a certified ignition interlock device which prevents the person from starting the car unless he or she passes a breathalyzer test; and possibly an order to perform community restitution. Subsequent violations are punishable by elevated jail times, fines, and license suspensions. Second violations within an 84-month period incur stiffer penalties, including a minimum jail term of 90 days, 30 of which must be served consecutively; a fine of $500, plus additional assessments of $2500; a minimum of 30 hours of community service; license revocation; and an order to install a certified ignition interlock device on any vehicle the person operates in the future.

A DUI of any kind entails stiff penalties, jail time, and possibly the inability to operate a motor vehicle for a significant period of time. It may be difficult to continue working or going to school without the driving privilege. This could lead to financial devastation. The Mesa Drug DUI Attorneys at Ariano and Associates can help you minimize the negative consequences of a DUI arrest. Call (480) 525-8994 and speak directly to a licensed attorney. Our lawyers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can answer your questions on the phone without the need for an appointment.