More Drivers Arrested for Drug DUI in Arizona in 2011; Maricopa County Criminal Defense Attorney Weighs In On Factors Contributing to the Increase in Drug DUI Arrests

The Governor's Office of Highway Safety recently released the Arizona DUI Enforcement Statistics for 2011, which details information about arrests made for all driving under the influence (DUI) offenses in Arizona for the 2011 fiscal year. James E. Novak, a criminal defense lawyer in Tempe, discusses implications of the increase in drug DUI arrests and potential penalties an individual could face if convicted of driving under the influence of drugs in Arizona.

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One of the primary reasons for the increase in DUI drugs arrests is because many people who are pulled over for this offense are not aware that driving under the influence of drugs is illegal, stated Mesa criminal defense lawyer James E. Novak

Phoenix, AZ (PRWEB) April 10, 2012

The Arizona DUI Enforcement Statistics for 2011, as published by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, showed an increase in drug DUI arrests for the ninth straight year in 2011. Tempe criminal defense lawyer James E. Novak analyzes the increased number of drug DUI arrests, DUI laws in Arizona and the penalties an individual could face if convicted of a drugged DUI offense.

As reported in the Arizona DUI Enforcement Statistics for 2011, total DUI arrests increased nearly 29% and went up from 19,353 in 2010 to 27,125 in 2011.

According to Phoenix drug DUI defense attorney James E. Novak, "A significant factor of the increase in total DUI arrests in Arizona in 2011 was due to driving under the influence of drugs, which included arrests for driving under the influence of marijuana, other illegal drugs and prescriptions drugs, even if the medication was dispensed legally."

As stated in the Arizona DUI Enforcement Statistics for 2011, total DUI drugs arrests increased from 1,674 in 2010 to 2,961 in 2011, which is a 44% increase. The percentage of drugged DUI arrests increased more than every other DUI offense in Arizona, including aggravated DUI, misdemeanor DUI, extreme DUI and juvenile DUI.

The total number of arrests for driving under the influence of drugs in Mesa showed an even greater increase than the number reported for the entire state. According to an article by Garin Groff in the East Valley Tribune on March 2, 2012, the number of arrests for DUI drugs in Mesa was 52%, which constituted over half of all DUI arrests in Mesa.

"One of the primary reasons for the increase in DUI drugs arrests is because many people who are pulled over for this offense are not aware that driving under the influence of drugs is illegal, including driving under the influence of many prescription medications and medical marijuana," stated Novak, a Mesa marijuana DUI lawyer.

Novak continued, "Arizona has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. Under the Arizona Revised Statutes § 28-1381, an individual may be convicted of a DUI even if they have consumed alcohol and their blood alcohol content is below the legal limit of .08%. Additionally, an individual may be convicted of a DUI if they are under the influence of any drug or substance that causes them to be "impaired to the slightest degree" while driving or having actual physical control of a vehicle. Arizona law specifies drugs or substances to include any drug, vapor-releasing substance that contains a toxic substance, any combination of alcohol or drugs, and any controlled substance."

Under Arizona law, the penalties for a DUI with drug and DUI with alcohol convictions are generally the same. According to the Arizona Revised Statutes, an individual charged with a first-time DUI drugs offense, such as DUI marijuana or DUI prescription drugs, can be convicted of a class 1 misdemeanor as long as no other aggravated factors are present and it is not a repeat offense. Drug DUI penalties can include 10 consecutive days in jail; a 90-day driver's license suspension or denial; probation; drug and alcohol education program; installation of an ignition interlock device for six months or the current statutory limit; and fines, fees, costs and assessments that can exceed $1,200.

As stated in the East Valley Tribune article, many law enforcement officers claim prescription drug abuse and Arizona's new medical marijuana law contributed to the increased number of drug DUI arrests.

"Although police officers assert medical marijuana and prescription drug abuse primarily caused the increase in drugged DUI arrests, one of the principal factors in the increase is because law enforcement in Arizona have stepped up their overall efforts to reduce the total number of driving under the influence offenses through the use of DUI checkpoints and DUI task forces throughout Arizona," said Novak.

James E. Novak of The Law Office of James E. Novak, PLLC is a criminal defense lawyer in Tempe who exclusively defends both felony and misdemeanor DUI and criminal charges throughout Maricopa County, including the Phoenix-metro area, Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Gilbert and Chandler, and all surrounding cities.


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