PHOENIX — People with marijuana in their system can escape driving-under-the-influence convictions if they can show they weren’t “high” enough to be impaired, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Friday.
The justices rejected a claim by two individuals that the fact they had state-issued cards allowing them to ingest the drug automatically means they can never be charged with driving while impaired. Chief Justice Scott Bales, writing for the unanimous court, said nothing in the 2010 voter-approved law allowing the medical use of marijuana provides such immunity.
But Bales said the presence of marijuana is not proof that someone is actually impaired.
Friday’s ruling creates what is called an “affirmative defense” for those charged with driving with drugs in their system.
In essence, they can still be charged with violating the law. And all prosecutors have to prove is that they did, in fact, test positive for marijuana or one of its metabolites, the chemicals caused when the drug breaks down in the body. [Read more at the Arizona Daily Star]