The Phoenix DUI Law Blog

New Grant Will Help Mesa Police Crack Down on Drugged Driving

Drugged driving is a mounting problem in the Valley. In fact, authorities say that since 2009 the number of DUI drug arrests has increased by 100 percent in Mesa.

That's why the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety has awarded the Mesa Prosecutor's Office a grant to help improve DUI drug case prosecution, The Associated Press reports. With the grant, the Mesa Police Department's Crime Lab plans to expand its hours in order to process more drugged driving cases.

The $6,800 grant will allow the crime lab to stay open an additional 20 hours a month for the next year. The extra hours will be devoted solely to testing for drugged driving cases. Authorities expect that an additional 180 to 240 cases will now be processed.

Drugged drivers pose just as much of a risk as drunken drivers, yet DUI drug cases are much more labor-intensive than regular drunken driving cases. With Breathalyzer units, it's easy for police to quickly determine whether a person has been driving while drunk. However, there's no Breathalyzer test for drugs.

Instead, expensive and time-consuming lab work is required to prove whether a driver was under the influence of drugs. For example, the marijuana metabolite THC can be detected in a person's urine or blood.

However, the metabolite can remain in a person's system for up to five weeks. That window of time is too large to conclusively show that a driver smoked pot before driving, as opposed to smoking a few weeks ago.

That's why Arizona and 15 other states have passed "per se" drugged driving laws, making it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of certain drugs in your system. Of course, lab work is required to detect the drugs.

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