Interviewer: Does the amount of marijuana that someone has in their car matter, even if it just a little small amount?
Michael Munoz: You don’t have to have any marijuana in the vehicle to get a DUI. If an officer determines or thinks that you are under the influence of marijuana, they can arrest you for that and charge you with a DUI. Having marijuana in the vehicle only creates a separate criminal offense, and that would be possession of marijuana and the amount of marijuana will depend on whether or not it is considered for personal use or it’s considered for more than that. So you do not need actual marijuana on you to get a drug DUI.
Through the Process of Gas Chromatography Drugs in the System are Broken Down into Metabolites
Interviewer: When they refer to metabolites, what does that mean?
Michael Munoz: Metabolites, what happens is they do a blood test to quantify how much drugs are in the system, they break it down and the way they break it down is through gas chromatography, the drug breaks down into what’s called a metabolite. It’s a way to measure what’s in the blood. In terms of marijuana, there are a few different types of metabolites, there is the active metabolite, which is Hydroxy-THC, and there is the inactive metabolite which is Carboxy-THC. Hydroxy-THC indicates that someone has had a recent ingestion of marijuana, maybe impaired by the marijuana and that’s really what the state is looking for when they do their prosecutions. Carboxy-THC is inactive THC, it’s a by-product which means it can be in your system but Carboxy-THC is not active, it is dead, so it is not impairing, means you are not high if you only have Carboxy. There has been a law change in Arizona so that now if you only have Carboxy-THC in your system, the state is not supposed to go forward with a DUI charge.
The Carboxy-THC Metabolite Can Stay in Your System for Up to 30 Days
Interviewer: Let’s say someone smoked marijuana several days ago, or maybe even several weeks ago, and they are arrested, is the blood test going to read that?
Michael Munoz: Possibly. The blood test would likely show no Hydroxy-THC because there has not been recent ingestion of marijuana, recent use, but it is possible that Carboxy-THC from the marijuana will still be in the system. Again, that is a non-impairing metabolite. Marijuana can stay in your system up to 30 days.
A Normal DUI Citation Generally Has Multiple Charges On It in Arizona
Interviewer: Will I be charged with both a drug charge and a DUI charge if I have been charged with a DUI? Are they going to be two separate charges?
Michael Munoz: A normal DUI citation is going to have multiple charges on it. Arizona has what I like to call a catch-all DUI, that is the DUI that they’ll charge with, they allege that someone is impaired to the slightest degree by pretty much any known substance, impaired by alcohol vapors, drugs or any type of combination of that, and then that charge is almost always added to a citation. And then if you have a suspicion that you’re under drugs, then you will have a DUI drug charge as well, that’s a 28-1381 / 83 charge. If the officer does not suspect drugs and only suspects alcohol, he’ll put down the alcohol related charges and that could be the DUI over a 0.08 or the DUI extreme, over a 0.15 or the DUI extreme that is over a 0.20%.