Arizona has extremely strict rules about driving with drugs or metabolites in your system. A metabolite is the active chemical compound (what causes the “high”) in a drug being broken down into sub-compounds. These metabolites show up in the bloodstream and urine. After a 2014 Arizona Supreme Court ruling in State v. Harris (Shilgevorkyan), CV-13-0056-PR, the law is now understood to mean that it is illegal to drive with an impairing metabolite in your system. This means that if a metabolite has been scientifically accepted to cause impairment, the driver can automatically be “impaired to the slightest degree,” no matter how much of the metabolite appeared in the blood or urine.

This does not only apply to illegal drugs such as methamphetamines, cocaine, or hallucinogens. Within the past few years, 10-20% of all DUI arrests in Arizona were due to prescription drugs. These can include painkillers, muscle relaxers, and insomnia medications that affect the central nervous system and cause impairment such as drowsiness and slowed reaction times. The punishments for prescription drug DUIs can be just as severe as any other DUI charge, including substantial fines, court fees, jail time, and the suspension of your driver’s license.

Your attorney will be able to interpret the blood or urine test results, consult with experts who can establish what those results actually mean, and defend you against these very strict rules. It is important that you consult with an attorney who understands the different legal requirements for a drug DUI and knows the most effective methods of defending you.