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Driving Under the Influence of THC versus CBD

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In Arizona, marijuana is legal for recreational use, but it’s still important to remember that driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal.

 Although there are no exact limits as to how much marijuana one can consume before being considered legally impaired, drivers can still be charged with a DUI if their driving behavior or physical symptoms suggest that they are impaired.

While it may not seem like a big deal to get behind the wheel after using marijuana, the consequences can include significant fines and jail time.

It is essential to remember that although marijuana may now be legal in Arizona, whether the product contains THC or CBD is an important distinction to make.

Driving under the influence of marijuana impairs essential driving skills such as reaction time, coordination, and judgment, making it a public safety concern. In Arizona, DUI laws are particularly strict; driving while under the influence of marijuana, even if prescribed for medical use, is illegal and can lead to severe penalties like jail time and license suspension. While THC and CBD both come from cannabis, only THC impairs driving and is illegal to use before driving.

Police in Arizona may use physical symptoms, field sobriety tests, and blood tests to identify marijuana impairment, but unlike alcohol, there’s no legal THC blood limit defined. Although generally not a felony, a marijuana DUI can become one under certain conditions, like multiple offenses. Medical marijuana users are not exempt from DUI laws, and while it’s illegal to drive under the influence, possessing up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in your car is legal if you’re over 21.

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Driving Under the Influence of THC versus CBD- Understanding the Legal Implications and Differences

How Does Marijuana Impact Driving Ability?

Driving under the influence of marijuana can significantly impact driving ability.

Marijuana impairs reaction time, coordination, and judgment, all essential for safe driving.

Studies have shown that drivers under the influence of marijuana may be unable to accurately judge distances and speeds or respond quickly in emergencies. 

Additionally, marijuana use can cause drowsiness and impair concentration, leading to an increased risk of accidents.

For these reasons, it is essential to avoid operating a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.

consequences of driving under the influence

Arizona DUI Laws and Marijuana

Arizona DUI laws are some of the strictest in the nation.

If caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can face severe penalties, including jail time, fines, license suspension, and community service.

In other words, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana, regardless of whether it was prescribed.

Furthermore, if found guilty of a DUI involving marijuana, you can expect to face similar penalties as those associated with an alcohol-related DUI.

Therefore, it is crucial to understand Arizona’s DUI laws and know that marijuana use while driving is illegal and could lead to severe consequences.

The Legal Distinctions Between THC and CBD

CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) are compounds found in cannabis.

However, their effects on the human body and their legal status, especially when it comes to driving under the influence, are notably different.

Here are the key differences between driving with CBD vs. THC in your system:

Psychoactive Effects

  • THC: THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives the “high” or intoxicated feeling. This can impact skills necessary for safe driving, such as coordination, reaction times, and decision-making abilities.
  • CBD: Conversely, CBD is non-psychoactive and does not impair your driving ability. It is often used for its potential therapeutic benefits without causing a high.


  • THC: Driving under the influence of THC is illegal in all states, including those where recreational marijuana use is legal. You could be charged with a DUI if you are pulled over, and a blood test shows a THC concentration above the legal limit (which varies by state).
  • CBD: CBD is legal at the federal level thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. Therefore, driving after using CBD shouldn’t result in a DUI, assuming the CBD product is compliant, and you are not impaired.

Drug Testing

  • THC: THC can remain in your system for days or weeks, which is what most drug tests look for. You could face DUI charges if you’re tested after driving and THC is detected.
  • CBD: Standard drug tests typically do not detect CBD. However, be aware that many CBD products contain trace amounts of THC, which might be detected on a drug test and could potentially lead to a DUI charge if the level is above the legal limit.

Implications for DUI Defense

  • THC: Defense strategies for a THC-related DUI often involve questioning the blood test’s accuracy, the traffic stop’s legality, or whether the THC concentration actually impaired your ability to drive.
  • CBD: If you’ve been charged with a DUI and only used CBD, you would want to bring evidence of the CBD product you used, showing that it complies with federal regulations and contains less than 0.3% THC.

Remember, while the consumption of marijuana may be legal, it’s always essential to use products that are compliant with local and federal laws.

And regardless of the substance, it is your responsibility to avoid driving if you feel impaired in any way.

If you face DUI charges related to the use of either THC or CBD, it’s crucial to seek legal advice to understand your options and possible defenses.


How Do Police Identify and Test Drivers For Marijuana Impairment?

In Arizona, police officers use various methods to identify and test drivers for marijuana impairment.

First, they will look for physical signs of impairment such as red eyes, dilated pupils, an odor of marijuana, or other indicators.

If the officer suspects a driver is impaired, they may request the driver submit to a field sobriety test or blood test.

Blood tests measure THC levels in the blood. 

It is essential to be aware that the level of THC in your blood does not determine impairment because there is no legal limit for THC in the law in Arizona, unlike the .08 legal limit for alcohol DUI. 

Moreover, unlike alcohol DUIs, the science has not evolved to determine at what nanograms of THC people are impaired. 

For alcohol, the relevant scientific community states that everyone is impaired at a .08 regardless of tolerance.

Thus, there is an excellent opportunity to argue that the client is not impaired even when there are high nanograms of THC in their system because they may have a high tolerance to THC from frequent or extended marijuana use.     

Furthermore, police departments in some cities have trained Drug Recognition Experts who are specially trained to recognize impairment from drugs other than alcohol. However, these tests are often performed by a self-proclaimed expert that may not have a college degree and only received a day and a half of classes. 

Is a Marijuana DUI a Felony in Arizona?

In Arizona, a marijuana DUI is not a felony in and of itself.

However, if the driver has three or more prior DUI convictions within seven years, has a suspended or restricted license, or has a child under 15 in the car, among other factors, they can be charged with a felony DUI.

Depending on the severity of the case, consequences can range from jail time to prison time. 

Additionally, suppose the driver has caused any property damage or injury due to driving under the influence of marijuana. In that case, they may face additional criminal charges and potentially be subjected to more severe penalties than those associated with a simple marijuana DUI.

It is essential for anyone facing these types of charges to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to get the best outcome possible.

medical marijuana dui

Can You Get a DUI for Medical Marijuana?

In Arizona, it is illegal to drive under the influence of any controlled substance, including marijuana.

Even if you use medical marijuana legally, you can still get a DUI for impaired driving.

In Arizona, you can be charged with a DUI if impaired to the slightest degree.

If convicted, you may face jail time, fines, license suspension, and other penalties. It is important to always drive responsibly and never get behind the wheel after using marijuana in any form for any purpose, whether for recreational or medical use.


Is it Legal to Have Marijuana in Your Car?

Driving under the influence isn’t legal in any state. It is illegal and dangerous and can have severe consequences if caught. 

You may be charged with DUI if you are found to have marijuana in your system, even if it was consumed off the road.

However, it is not illegal to possess marijuana in your car as long as it is under the legal weight limit of 2.5 ounces of marijuana and you are at least 21 years old.


A Marijuana DUI is a Serious Charge. However, Our Team of Defense Attorneys has Won Cases Like Yours.

If you have been charged with a Marijuana DUI, whether it contained THC or CBD, there is hope.

Our team of experienced defense attorneys has extensive experience in cases like yours and has won many victories for our clients.

Our Marijuana DUI lawyers know the law and the legal system inside out, and we will work hard to build the most robust case on your behalf.

We understand these charges can be overwhelming and intimidating, but we will fight aggressively to protect your rights and ensure you receive the best possible outcome.

Contact our DUI defense lawyers today at 602-825-2500, so we can assist you in making the best choice for yourself and your future.

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