If you have consumed a drug or medication it will likely stay in your system well beyond the time its effects have past. After a drug is consumed, and metabolized, what remains is called a metabolite. Some metabolites can cause impairment – others cannot. Similarly, some metabolites can be the basis for a DUI charge – others cannot.
What is a Drug Metabolite?
Metabolism is a process of chemical reactions in the body that changes substances in the body so that they can be eliminated more easily. A metabolite results from this process.
Arizona’s DUI statute is A.R.S. 28-1381. Within that law is the prohibition of driving with the metabolite of a prohibited drug in your system. This is true regardless of the drug’s effect on your body. However, there are some limitations. In particular, the inactive metabolite of marijuana (carboxy-THC).
The metabolite of THC is Hydroxy-THC. Like THC, Hydroxy-THC it is also capable of causing impairment. It is a violation of law to have it your system without a valid medical card.
Carboxy-THC is the metabolite of Hydroxy. This drug is two steps removed from the THC and not capable of causing impairment. Accordingly, it is not illegal to have it in your blood.
The drugs and medication prohibited (many of which are controlled substances) are defined in A.R.S. 13-3401.
In cases where a driver ingests a legal substance which through a bodily process unknown to a person of average intelligence and common experience, that substance is transformed into a prohibited substance, the driver is not liable under A.R.S. § 13-1381(A)(3).
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