Getting a charged for driving under the influence even when you're not high or drunk


Getting arrested for DWI or DUI usually meant you were legally intoxicated. An Arizona appeals court has another view.

The case involves Hrach Shilgevorkyan, a motorist involved in a 2010 traffic stop in Maricopa County. Shilgevorkyan was arrested and forced to take a blood test. The blood chemistry revealed a chemical compound which is only produced after another compound is broken down following the ingestion of marijuana. The compound in question can remain in the system for weeks and is not an indication that the person was intoxicated or impaired.

Overturning a lower court decision, the appeals court ruled that both compounds apply to Arizona DUI laws. The result of the decision means that a driver does not have to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs to be arrested and convicted. 

Complicating the situation is the fact that the state of Arizona allows medical marijuana use. 

People want their laws to make sense. If the charge is driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated then charges and convictions should be limited to that circumstance alone. If someone had a drink two days ago, or smoked pot two weeks ago, metabolites identifying those issues can remain in their blood chemistries for some time. However, once the intoxicant wears off, these people are under the influence of nothing other than their normal thought processes.

Perhaps it should be a crime to arrest them.


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