Driving While Impaired to the Slightest Degree

Lerner & Rowe Law Group
Drinking and driving while impaired to the slightest degree.

Charged with DUI under 0.08% BAC – Driving while Impaired to the Slightest Degree by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.

Often, our clients are surprised and confused when they are cited for a DUI when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was below 0.08%. It’s a common conception that the legal limit for a DUI charge in Arizona is 0.08% BAC. However, pursuant to Arizona DUI law, a motorist can be arrested for DUI charges when their BAC is below .08% but are believed to be impaired by drugs or alcohol to the “slightest degree.” This charge falls under A.R.S. § 28-1381 and is commonly known “DUI impaired to the slightest degree.” Below is an example of how the charge will appear on a criminal traffic citation.

Slightest Charges - DUI
DUI Impaired to the Slightest Degree

If the motorist’s BAC is believed to be in excess of 0.08%, police to will issue a citation for multiple DUI charges stemming from the same incident. The greater the BAC, the more DUI charges will be added. A person can also be charged with being impaired by marijuana to the slightest degree. To illustrate, if there is probable cause to believe the motorist was driving under the influence of alcohol with a BAC of 0.15% or greater (Extreme DUI) and that the motorist recently ingested marijuana, the police may issue a citation that looks like the following:

Traffic Violation - Extreme Plus 1
Extreme DUI

Penalties for Driving with a BAC below 0.08% – Still Harsh

It may come as a surprise, but if a motorist is found guilty of being Impaired to the Slightest Degree, the person can receive the same sentence as someone who was charged with having a BAC greater than .08%.

A person in violation of A.R.S.28-1381 – “Impaired to the Slightest Degree” will be charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor. For a first offense DUI conviction the possible penalties include:

  • A maximum of 6 months in jail (10 days minimum)
  • A 90 day suspension of your driving privileges
  • Court fines and fees of that can total $2,000 or more
  • Alcohol screening
  • Drug or alcohol classes
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for up to one year
  • Possible SR-22 Insurance Policy

Notably, there is no specific definition in the law that defines what it means to be impaired to the slightest degree, so it is often left to the lawyers to argue the facts supporting and contradicting impairment. This is why it’s incredibly important to have the assistance of a Phoenix DUI lawyer. A DUI attorney can challenge the police officer’s observations, the field sobriety tests, the scientific testing, and any other fact the prosecutor may use to argue a defendant was impaired to the slightest degree.

Medical Marijuana and DUI to the Slightest Degree

Being a medical marijuana patient and possessing an Arizona medical marijuana card does not protect the cardholder from a criminal prosecution for driving while impaired to the slightest degree as a result of marijuana use. Under current Arizona law, the mere existence of marijuana or the active metabolite of marijuana in an AMMA patient’s blood will support a DUI charge. Complicating the issue, Arizona does not have any sort of threshold amount or legal limit of THC that an AMMA patient can have in their system at the time of driving.

However, if the person possesses a medical marijuana card they can present a defense to the charge of being impaired to the slightest degree by arguing the quantity of marijuana and its metabolites in the person’s system at the time of driving did not cause impairment. To do so usually requires the help of an experienced DUI lawyer who understands the current law on the subject and the science behind how marijuana affects the brain and body.

DUI Lawyers in Arizona

If you’re facing DUI charges in Arizona, consult with a DUI lawyer with the Lerner and Rowe Law Group. The criminal lawyers with the Lerner and Rowe Law Group are dedicated exclusively to defending persons accused of DUI and criminal charges. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation to explore the most effective defenses to protect your freedom and driving privileges.

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.