Court Rules Arizona Can Prosecute Sober People for Driving Under the Influence

Great Beyond / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SAGreat Beyond / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SAThis story is a couple weeks old but in case you missed it: An Arizona appeals court has ruled that motorists don’t actually have to be under the influence to be prosecuted for driving under the influence.

Via the Associated Press:

An appeals court has issued a ruling that upholds the right of authorities to prosecute pot smokers in Arizona for driving under the influence even when there is no evidence that they are actually high.

…The ruling overturns a decision by a lower court judge who said it didn't make sense to prosecute a person with no evidence they're under the influence.

…The case stems from a 2010 traffic stop in Maricopa County. The motorist's blood test revealed only a chemical compound that is found in the blood after another compound produced from ingesting marijuana breaks down.

According to testimony by a prosecution criminalist, the compound found in the man's blood doesn't impair the ability to drive but can remain detectable for four weeks.

…However, the Court of Appeals sided with prosecutors who appealed, saying that allowing the testing for marijuana's active compound would unduly restrict law enforcement.

The ruling does not apply to the state’s 35,000 medical marijuana patients, who are permitted to drive with pot in their systems if they can pass a (flawed) test for impairment. Of course, as Reason senior editor Jacob Sullum notes, early reports indicate pot may not actually impair drivers all that much.  

The case will be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Sevo||

    Sir, do you intend to have wine with your dinner?

  • Professional Target||

    Kinda puts the lie about it being about public safety.

    For the life of me, I cannot figure out why people don't get at least as upset about this sort of crap as they would if NFL refs started ignoring the rules.

  • Hugh Akston||

    This is exactly why Congress needs to act now on that border fence surrounding Arizona.

  • JW||

    I'm thinking Oklahoma is a better candidate for that fence:

    Stop Obama
    Like This Page · 19 hours ago near Enid, OK

    Oklahoma is the only state that Obama did not win even one county in the last election... While everyone is focusing on Arizona ’s new law, look what Oklahoma has been doing!!!!

    An update from Oklahoma :

    Oklahoma law passed, 37 to 9 an amendment to place the Ten Commandments on the front entrance to the state capitol. The feds in D.C., along with the ACLU, said it would be a mistake. Hey this i
    s a conservative state, based on Christian values...! HB 1330

    Guess what.......... Oklahoma did it anyway.

    Oklahoma recently passed a law in the state to incarcerate all illegal immigrants, and ship them back to where they came from unless they want to get a green card and become an American citizen. They all scattered. HB 1804. This was against the advice of the Federal Government, and the ACLU, they said it would be a mistake.

    Guess what.......... Oklahoma did it anyway.

    Recently we passed a law to include DNA samples from any and all illegal's to the Oklahoma database, for criminal investigative purposes. Pelosi said it was unconstitutional SB 1102

    Guess what......... Oklahoma did it anyway.

  • JW||

    (cont.)

    Several weeks ago, we passed a law, declaring Oklahoma as a Sovereign state, not under the Federal Government directives. Joining Texas , Montana and Utah as the only states to do so.
    More states are likely to follow: Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Carolina's, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, West Virginia, Mississippi and Florida. Save your confederate money, it appears the South is about to rise up once again. HJR 1003

    The federal Government has made bold steps to take away our guns. Oklahoma, a week ago, passed a law confirming people in this state have the right to bear arms and transport them in their vehicles. I'm sure that was a setback for the criminals The Liberals didn't like it -- But....
    Guess what........... Oklahoma did it anyway.

    Just this month, the state has voted and passed a law that ALL drivers’ license exams will be printed in English, and only English, and no other language. They have been called racist for doing this, but the fact is that ALL of the road signs are in English only. If you want to drive in Oklahoma , you must read and write English. Really simple.

    By the way, the Liberals don't like any of this either

    Guess what...who cares... Oklahoma is doing it anyway.

    If you like it, pass it on, if you don't then delete it...Thanks Guess what : they people I'm sending this to , will send it on. Well, at least the ones who love and believe in freedom will.
  • ||

    Wait, I seem to recall there's this dusty old document that prohibits this kind of police action. Something like:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    No? Not ringing any bells?

  • CatoTheElder||

    That dusty old document was written on hemp paper.

    Obviously, it is null and void.

  • Hyperion||

    Hemp paper? So you are saying that the founders hated the children? Burn that old document before some unsuspecting child eats it and goes insane with reefer madness!

  • Mr Whipple||

    That's an old wives tale. The Constitution was written on vellum.

    Are you an old wife?

  • CatoTheElder||

    The original text of the Constitution was drafted on hemp paper. It was transcribed to vellum.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I'm not sure where that text comes from, but I'm willing to bet that it's at least 100 years old and that white, slaveowning males wrote it. Therefore, we can disregard anything it says in favor of the will of our TOP MEN.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...allowing the testing for marijuana's active compound would unduly restrict law enforcement.

    Do I understand this statement? No, I don't.

  • Sevo||

    It's sorta like that cop over in 24/7; he claimed the camera was preventing him from continuing his investigation.

  • Hyperion||

    That's because beating the shit out of a homeless guy for no apparent reason, shooting someones dog, for no apparent reason, or tazing granny 60 times, for no apparent reason, has recently got some cops into trouble when video of their actions went viral in youtube.

    So, he was correct in his statement.

  • Sevo||

    Trouble?
    You mean like paid vacations? That sort of "trouble"?

  • Mensan||

    Yes, that sort of trouble.

  • ||

    What they meant is: allowing the testing only for marijuana's active compound ....

    Not that it makes the expressed concept any less odious.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Thanks. That seems a crucial omission.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    When Dummbya signed the Patriot Spy on America Act all our liberties went away.

  • SweatingGin||

    Man, I'm so glad Obama vetoed it's renewal.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    You point out the problem accurately.

    No Top Men ever relinquish power. We must prevent them from obtaining it.

  • Sevo||

    Palin's Buttplug| 2.23.13 @ 6:53PM |#
    "You point out the problem accurately.
    No Top Men ever relinquish power. We must prevent them from obtaining it."

    And for some reason, you never find it proper to gripe about team blue gasbags.
    Wonder why that is, dipshit.

  • ||

    Yeah, this only goes back to W.

    Fuck you're stupid.

  • tarran||

    And you are arguing with the Internet equivalent of a homeless guy screaming at a wall while scratching his urine-reeking crotch.

    Why are you wasting your time?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Because - I AM JUST NOT GOP ENOUGH!

    That is what it always boils down to you fucking conservatives - oops "libertarians".

  • ||

    Gee, let me see... What can ass-fuck be up to?

    Hmmm? Could it be that he posts an absurdly broad comment condemning BOOOSH, without pointing out any responsibility on the part of the left.

    AND THEN...

    ...wait for it...

    When someone points out his deceit, he will yell at the walls about how libertarians are really just Republicans.

    Yawn.

    Does anyone else smell urine?

  • Mensan||

    Wait. Is Pale Buttplug really Ohio Urine? I thought it was Mary. I can't keep the trolls straight when they don't stick to one name.

  • ||

    Not sure who Ohio Urine is? Must have been before my time.

    No, the latest buttplug meme, (brought to us by taran? IIRC), is that PB is an insane lunatic who screams at the walls, wearing urine stained pants.

    It was a play on that.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Nope, Buttplug used to be shrike. When he was shrike he was at least "entertainingly" crazy, not "annoyingly" crazy.

    I don't know what happened to Ohio Orrin, I think he gave up.

  • Sevo||

    Francisco d Anconia| 2.23.13 @ 8:47PM |#
    "Gee, let me see... What can ass-fuck be up to?
    Hmmm? Could it be that he posts an absurdly broad comment condemning BOOOSH, without pointing out any responsibility on the part of the left."

    Well regardless of shreek's lefty stupidity, it's obvious he has daddy issues.
    Now if only he could screw his daddy, why everything would be fine.
    Hey, dipshit! Go fuck your dad and leave us alone!

  • General Butt Naked||

    Go fuck your dad and leave us alone!

    Sounds like someone is afraid of the truth.

    Have you even taken the Bush/Cheney bumper sticker off of your SUV yet?

  • Hyperion||

    Because - I AM JUST NOT GOP ENOUGH!

    Ok, blame it on that if you really want to be that disingenuous.

    But really, all you need to do is stop clinging to Team Blues nutsack, and you might be taken seriously.

    Do you ever notice, yourself, how surprised you are when we harshly criticize team Red here? Get over it, and pull your head out of your ass.

  • tarran||

    Shriek is again screaming at the wall. He is accusing me, a guy who calls for the destruction of the GOP, who rarely misses a chance to call them on their corporatism and mercantilism, of being in their camp.

    Now, if he was actually engaged in discourse rather than screaming at a wall, he would remember this. He reminds me of nothing other than the guy who I had as a neighbor in Orlando, who would - if I let him - lecture me for hours on how the popes were responsible for all evil in the world.

    There is nothing to be learned from such people. Their insanity will suck you in if you fail to avoid it.

  • Swamp Think||

    "...pull your head out of your ass."

    Hey, a buttplug's gotta do what buttplugs do. It's the natural order.

  • ||

    It's Saturday and I was bored.

  • BuSab Agent||

    You know, I think that's the exact same line Ghenghis Khan used...

  • Marshall Gill||

    And if the claim about genetic markers are correct, there were a lot of Saturdays.

  • Sevo||

    BuSab Agent| 2.23.13 @ 9:52PM |#
    "You know, I think that's the exact same line Ghenghis Khan used..."

    When he blew through Trashcanistan?

  • Hyperion||

    Why did your hero, resign it? Did mean old Rethuglicans make him do it?, because they would have maybe said mean things about him? Aww, I feel so bad for the guy that wants to save the world, but can't, because he might get his wittle feelings hurt in the process.

    Get off of Team Blues nutsack, if you want to be taken seriously.

    Can you do it? I doubt it, prove me wrong.

  • juris imprudent||

    And the plug goes silent whilst being sucked up into the near infinite blue buttcrack.

  • Sevo||

    New Rise| 2.23.13 @ 6:51PM |#
    "Color me apathetic. Pretty soon Arizona will be Mexican again..."

    Darn brown people! Why, they're almost as bad as black people, right idiot?

  • General Butt Naked||

    Even if you don't care about legalization you should at least be concerned about the erosion of civil liberties made possible by the drug war. Do you think we'd have a gutted 4th, a militarized police force, and a prison workers' union capable of altering elections if it weren't for the drug war?

    When they come for the guns they're gonna use the apparatus they built up for the drug war. Maybe then you'll care a bit more.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    ^THIS^. The drug war created the state apparatus that is/will be used for ALL of the tyrannical invasions of our liberties under Bush/Obombo. It is the tip of the spear against the 4th amendment. It provides for the incarceration of one half of all US prisoners. It is a vile, pernicious, odious, reprehensible, wicked, abominable, abhorrent, repugnant, revolting, depraved cancer on humanity. After ending the Fed and bringing all troops home from all foreign soil (NO EXCEPTIONS!!!), it is the most essential policy for preserving our Liberties.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Next thing you know, they'll be prosecuting people for having dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in their body.

  • CatoTheElder||

    It's on Schedule 1, so why not?

    Everyone's a felon!

  • Mr Whipple||

    Yup. Sasha "The Good Doctor" Shulgin brought this point up in an interview.

  • Hyperion||

    That is exactly what they want.

  • Mensan||

    How the fuck is an endogenous anxiolytic neurotransmitter a schedule 1 drug?

  • Mr Whipple||

    Since teh childrenz started smoking it to get high.

  • Ted S.||

    One of the local channels had a promo on a day or two ago about how proud they were to run stories warning us about the ways our children re getting his (ways that are, of course, nonsense moral panics), which included mentioning hand sanitizer, and, I think, whipped cream (you'd think the teens would use the whipped cream for something else, but apparently, a Google search yields a bunch of these moral panic stories).

  • juris imprudent||

    If not that, then GHB.

  • chorizo||

    Because there is no easy and accurate way to test if someone is under the influence of marijuana, the only reasonable alternative is to assume that anyone who has smoked marijuana in the last month is under the influence. It's the only way to keep our children safe from Mexican drug cartel violence.

  • Sevo||

    ..."the only reasonable alternative is to assume that anyone who has smoked marijuana in the last month is under the influence."...

    And they must be an ADDICT, too!

  • wakeup||

    it's for the children you know.

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    Fuck the law.

  • tarran||

    What a guy!

  • SIV||

    SPACE HIPPIES!

    The Way to Eden is on TV!

  • ||

    I'm Tucker McElroy, lead singer, driver of the Winnebago.

  • wakeup||

    Here's some big things.

    May not be safe for lunch.

  • Mensan||

    You should have just wrote: "Look, photoshop!"

  • General Butt Naked||

    The largest horns looks like the devil from Legend.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

  • General Butt Naked||

    "Being a non-alcoholic event we wanted to take people back in time to their younger days when there were no worries and life was fun and easy. I think we achieved that."

    BOOO!

  • ||

    Prozac only.

  • ||

    Hard to believe they are Kiwis. Non-alcoholic? Really? Why bother?

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

  • ||

    He didn't design Daleks, he ripped them off from the far superior Inspector Spacetime.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    That's a lie.

  • ||

    Only in the darkest timelines.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    News you can use?
    Annie Edison is also the name of a character on The Edison Twins.

  • ||

    There exists no timeline where that news is useful.

  • ||

    “The good news is, the world doesn’t end March 2. The bad news is, the world doesn’t end March 2,” said Emily Holubowich, a Washington health-care lobbyist who leads a coalition of 3,000 nonprofit groups fighting the cuts. “The worst-case scenario for us is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens. And Republicans say: See, that wasn’t so bad.”

    Wouldn't that be a tragedy?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Doom. Doom! DOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I think what she's trying to say is that the sequester could be harmful, yet not produce any problems that are immediately obvious to the avg person -- but that came out totally wrong. I would have expected a lobbyist to be better at spin doctoring.

  • ||

    Well, they are already threatening, I mean, uhm, warning, that air travel could be heavily delayed.

    http://www.latimes.com/busines.....6492.story

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Yep, that's one of this big baby of a president's loudest rattles.

  • Ted S.||

    No. This would be a tragedy.

  • Not an Economist||

    Is it just me or are the sequestration cuts designed to maximimize the pain?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Geez, enough ellipsises, Mr Ross? From the article:

    The ruling said it serves the Legislature's intention to have a flat ban on driving under the influence to interpret the DUI law's reference to a prohibited substance and "its metabolite" as covering both a substance's active and inactive compounds.

    So technically this person did break the DUI law, if we accept that interpretation. I think that's a stupid interpretation, since the inactive compounds have no correlation to impairment and may be present when the active compounds are not, but that's a matter for the courts to decide.

  • kbolino||

    In other words, while Top. Men. are debating, the rest of us need to shut up.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    More like the rest of us need to get the law changed to explicitly state that only incapacitating compounds or reliable indicators of the presence thereof are sufficient for DUI conviction. If you allow vagueness in the law you're begging for courts to come up with statist interpretations.

  • juris imprudent||

    Shut up you evil child eating monster.

  • kbolino||

    So not only am I not allowed to debate it, but it's my fault too?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Never said you aren't allowed to debate it; just pointing out that Ross' framing of the situation is flawed and point-missing.

    Since you probably didn't write the law, it's not your fault. In the final sentence I meant "you" in the general sense. Substitute "one" if this is confusing.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    You know who else had a private army of "activists"?

    In private meetings and phone calls, Mr. Obama’s aides have made clear that the new organization will rely heavily on a small number of deep-pocketed donors, not unlike the “super PACs” whose influence on political campaigns Mr. Obama once deplored.

    Unlike a presidential campaign, Organizing for Action has been set up as a tax-exempt “social welfare group.” That means it is not bound by federal contribution limits, laws that bar White House officials from soliciting contributions, or the stringent reporting requirements for campaigns. In their place, the new group will self-regulate...

    The goal is to harness those resources in support of Mr. Obama’s second-term policy priorities, including efforts to curb gun violence and climate change and overhaul immigration procedures. Those efforts began Friday, when thousands of Obama supporters were deployed through more than 80 Congressional districts around the country to rally outside lawmakers’ offices, hold vigils and bombard Congress with e-mails and phone calls urging members to support stricter background checks for gun buyers.
  • General Butt Naked||

    The American people need a lobby in Congress -- that's what President Obama wants to set up. Words just go so far with legislators, you need some cash too. It works for all the special interests, time for it to work for the American people.

    Wow, just wow. I guess I'm not an American person.

    And don't you love how gun control has turned into "preventing gun violence" in every news story you read. It's almost as if the media is acting as the propaganda wing of the executive branch. They take their order and march in lockstep.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    To emphasize the positive... I'm surprised the NYT even covered this story.

    This is what sucks about battling the professional Left, though: they can bus parasites around the country to protest at congressional district offices to create the illusion of widespread support for their position. I doubt said parasites are being honest when the office asks them where they live, too.

    Meanwhile, those of us on the other side mostly have work and family commitments that prevent us from even getting to our state capitol for a rally on a weekday.

  • General Butt Naked||

    This will finally start to undo some of the untold damage caused by the Citizen's United decision and the influence of corporate money on American politics. The president shows once again that he's in the fight against corporate greed and racist obstructionism for the long haul. Now the PEOPLE can have a say!

    -what the average NYT reader took away from the article

  • Virginian||

    I was at my non-government job on Saturday, and one of the customers said "Well, I'm off to the Capitol". Asking what for, she replied "Well, there's a rally against guns and I just feel I should go and show my support." I smiled and murmured noncommittally.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    It's almost as if the media is acting as the propaganda wing of the executive branch. They take their order and march in lockstep.

    JournoList 2.0.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    A lone voice of reason in the NYT comments section. No doubt he'll be banned for posting hateful, right-wing/Kochtopus rhetoric:

    Aloric2East CoastNYT

    If this isn't selling access I don't know what is. If Obama gets away with it, then every future president of either party will do the same. It's just unseemly for the U.S. President to be doing this, and his own party should speak out against it instead of trying to rationalize the lowering of the bar.
  • Not an Economist||

    But you don't understand. Obama and the democrats are only doing what is best for America. There motives are pure. Now it the people doing this weren't democrats, the motives would would be unpure and must be stopped by any means necessary.

  • Paul.||

    so awesome, 2 sets of laws, 1 for regular people, and 1 for medical patients.

  • Alice Bowie||

    In 1993 I was arrested for DUI because the NJ State Trooper's smelled Pot in my car. They took a urine test.

    I went to about 5 lawyers (ones I knew, ones I didn't). All confident that I would be convicted because it was in my system.

    I was up late one night watching TV and saw an NJ Lawyer that had great success with DUI. I called him, he had a completely different opinion. He said that the urine test is not conclusive as they don't know when the person smoked.

    My case was like a murder trial, it cost me $4000 back in 1993 with lawyer and hiring a retired chemist from the nj state police crime lab to testify that the test can't prove it. And, I won the case.

    Even today, it appears that common knowledge is that you will be convicted. However, if you push it and you have the money, you'll win.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    If this form of conviction becomes common in an America where marijuana is ultimately legal I see no benefit in smoking a substance that can convict me up to 4 weeks afterwards. At least a 6-pack of Dirty Bastards heartily imbibed in the evening will leave me legal in the morning.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement