Interviewer: Are penalties for a drug related DUI going to be worse than an alcohol related one?
Michael Munoz: The penalties for a drug misdemeanor DUI are exactly the same penalties as an impaired to the slightest degree DUI or an over 0.08 DUI. They have a minimum of 10 days in jail, 9 of those days it is possible to get them suspended, so it’s possible to get as low as 1 day in jail if convicted and the max for all misdemeanor DUIs, regardless of what it is, any class 1 misdemeanor has a max of 6 months in jail. The one penalty that a drug DUI has compared to an alcohol DUI is if you get convicted of a drug DUI in Arizona, you’re looking at a possible MVD suspension of one year, so MVD can suspend you for 1 year on a drug DUI vs. an alcohol related one and the suspension will not be that long.
In the Instance of a Drug Related DUI Charge It Does Not Matter Who Owned the Drugs
Interviewer: What if the drugs did not belong to someone. Someone tells you that ‘Hey, this is what happened; the drug didn’t belong to me.’ Is that going to be really hard to prove?
Michael Munoz: It really doesn’t matter who owns what drugs on a DUI. If the drugs show up in your blood, it’s kind of hard to say that they are somebody else’s drugs because obviously to do drugs, you have to ingest some in some form or inhale them, inject them in some way. So, while I guess it could be a defense, it’s not a very strong defense. With marijuana it’s possible to do a second hand smoke defense but whether or not that is going to be a good defense or not, I don’t know. It’s usually not a very strong defense but it is possible. And then any other drug, to say that it was somebody else’s drugs doesn’t really go too far unless someone’s arguing that maybe they didn’t know they took the drugs like maybe their drink was spiked or someone slipped something in their drink, that’s always a potential defense but to have it work, we would have to have some pretty good follow up evidence to it.
A Valid Prescription for Drugs Consumed Can Act as a Viable Defense for Drug Related DUI Charges
Interviewer: If the drug is part of my prescription, that I need to take it, they are prescribed by my doctor; can I have a good case with that?
Michael Munoz: Yes, as long as you have a valid prescription, and you can prove that you are taking the prescription the way you are supposed to, then you are going to have a very defensible case. The state may still try to prosecute you with the A1 DUI charge by saying you were impaired to the slightest degree and they can do that, but you’re going to have a very good case because you are going to be able to argue to the jury that not only do you have a prescription and you are allowed to take that drug, but you’ve been doing it exactly like your doctor prescribed.
There are No Diversionary Programs for DUI Offenses in the State of Arizona
Interviewer: First offender program. In the sense that it’s a first offense, first DUI, drug related, are there going to be any diversionary programs or anything of that nature?
Michael Munoz: I do not know of any court in Arizona that offers diversion for DUIs. I’ve only heard of a couple of states that may do diversion DUIs, but Arizona is not one of them. I don’t know if any prosecuting agency that does that. It’s possible to get a case dismissed based on maybe the facts or a case reduced to a lower charge based on facts but that’s going to be based on some legal work from a good lawyer, for a lawyer who is experienced in DUI, now that’s possible, it’s not expected but I do not know of any diversion programs for DUI in Arizona.