“Use of Prescription Medication an Epidemic and DUI hazard”
The National Center for Disease Control (CDC) describes use of prescription medication as an epidemic and the fastest-growing drug problem in the Country. It is said that more teens are using prescription medicine than cocaine, meth and Ecstasy combined.
Final numbers are still being tallied from police agencies throughout Arizona. But preliminary statistics for 2012 indicate Drug DUI arrests are expected to jump from 11% in 2011 up 14% in 2012 of all DUI arrests in Arizona.
Officials attribute this to increased funding for specialized police drug detection and impairment training such as Arizona’s Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Program. Police Agencies are now using state of the art equipment, and are well trained for Drug DUI enforcement. For example, Gilbert AZ Police Department, is equipped with mobile DUI enforcement vans; unmarked vehicles; special DUI motor cycle enforcement units; granted allowances for overtime; and training and certification to police officers in phlebotomy DUI processing.
Other contributing factors for the increase in Drug DUI arrests are frequency of use and access to prescription drugs by adults, and youths.
At this juncture, there are no published statistics as to how many of the Drug DUI arrests were Marijuana related. So no assumptions can be made as to whether or not legalization of Medical Marijuana in Arizona contributed to the increased Drug DUI Arrests.
Arizona Drug DUI Laws
Under A.R.S. 28-1381 in addition to alcohol DUI laws, it is also unlawful to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in Arizona, if a person is impaired to the slightest degree due to the influence of any drug; vapor releasing toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances. This includes legal, or illegal drugs, or Medical Marijuana. It also includes drugs obtained with a valid prescription or any over-the-counter drugs. This means that a person can be cited for DUI if they have had no spirituous liquor at all, but are driving impaired to being under the influence of a drug.
A first or second DUI with no aggravated factors in Arizona is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. This includes drug related DUI charges. Penalties are generally the same or similar as sentencing for alcohol related DUI charges. If convicted penalties call for 10 day jail terms; mandatory substance abuse counseling; fines, fees, and other harsh penalties. Jail terms may be reduced to 24 hours, upon successful treatment of an alcohol or substance abuse program.
Criminal Defense Attorney Gilbert AZ
Motorists are not aware that a drug may impair their ability to driver. But in Arizona, it is not a defense for a motorist to claim that a driver was aware that drug had the potential to impair their driving or not. If you have been arrested for any type of DUI, your future and freedom are in jeopardy. You should a qualified consult a criminal defense attorney who defends charges in the city where you received the citation, to discuss your matter, and defense options.
• Gilbert Police Traffic Unit