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AZ Supreme Court Decision on Drugged Driving May Impact Rhode Island DUI Cases

Posted by Matthew Marin | May 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

A recent decision by the Arizona Supreme Court may provide persuasive analysis for driving under the influence of drugs charges throughout the country, including Rhode Island.  The issue decided by the AZ Supreme Court involved the application of the AZ DUI Law to an individual whose blood tests revealed the presence of an inactive metabolite known as "carboxy-THC" which can linger in the blood stream for up to one month after smoking.  The substance that produces a high is known as "hydroxy-THC" which is broken down by the body into the "carboxy-THC".  The AZ Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the AZ DUI Law prohibited the operation of a motor vehicle while the active metabolite "hydroxy-THC" was present in an individual's system".
The issue decided by the AZ Supreme Court has not been addressed by the Rhode Island Supreme Court.  Rhode Island's DUI Statute prohibits operation of a motor vehicle "while under the influence" of a scheduled drug and operation of a motor vehicle "with a blood presence of any scheduled controlled substance" as shown by blood or urine evidence.  It is this second part of the statute that could be impacted by the reasoning of the AZ Supreme Court ruling.
In handling RI Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Charges, I have seen that different Judges handle these cases differently.  Most Judges and prosecutors lack a significant amount of experience and knowledge with respect to these charges and analysis of blood test results in driving under the influence of marijuana charges.  With this lack of experience comes a misinterpretation of the blood test results.  When the Rhode Island Department of Health tests blood in a DUI case it reports marijuana levels for both "carboxy-THC" and "hydroxy-THC".  Without proper knowledge and analysis, most would assume that either would be sufficient to prosecute a Rhode Island DUI case.
Utilizing the logic and analysis of the AZ Supreme Court, a conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana in Rhode Island should require, at a minimum, the blood presence of "hydroxy-THC" and the presence of "carboxy-THC" should not be sufficient to sustain a conviction.
A conviction for DUI of marijuana without a blood test indicating "hydroxy-THC" would "create criminal liability regardless of how long the metabolite remains in the driver's system or whether it has any impairing effect."  The Rhode Island Court's should adopt the conclusion of the AZ Supreme Court and find that the legislature must have meant that any amount of the impairing hydroxy-THC was a criminal act, not the substance that lingers in the blood stream for thirty days.
The Law Offices of Matthew T. Marin, Esquire, Inc. 

If you or a loved one has been charged with a driving under the influence of marijuana or any DUI or chemical test refusal offense in Rhode Island, you need to immediately call Attorney Matthew Marin for skilled and aggressive drunk driving and drugged driving defense representation.  We will begin working immediately to ensure that your rights are protected and that you can put the best defense possible forward.  Attorney Marin is available 24/7 to discuss your case and to schedule a no fee, confidential consultation at one of our convenient office locations.  Contact us today by phone at 401-228-8271 or email at [email protected], or fill out the contact form on our Website.

About the Author

Matthew Marin

Attorney Matthew T. Marin is a highly skilled criminal defense lawyer with an outstanding track record in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. With expertise in DUI/DWI, drug offenses, domestic violence, and white-collar crimes, he is dedicated to providing personalized and effective representation for his clients. A "Rising Star" by Super Lawyers and a member of the National College for DUI Defense and the National Trial Lawyers Top 100, Attorney Marin is committed to staying current with the latest legal developments and giving back to his community through pro bono work.


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