Drug DUI Based on Cocaine

Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer Assisting Residents of Phoenix and Surrounding Areas

Drugged driving is taken very seriously by Arizona law enforcement officers and prosecutors. If you are charged with drug DUI based on cocaine, it is important to retain a skillful Phoenix drug DUI attorney to provide a strong defense. James Novak is an experienced former prosecutor who can put his insights to work for you and minimize the consequences of the charge.

Drug DUI Based on Cocaine

A drug DUI with cocaine usually involves being charged both with an impaired driving count and a per se violation. Usually, a prosecutor will charge you under A.R.S. section 28-1381(a)(1) for driving while impaired by a drug and under A.R.S. 28-1381(a)(3) for driving while a drug defined in section 13-3401 or its metabolite is in your body. A metabolite is a chemical compound created during the process of metabolism, whereby the body breaks down a drug or substance to get rid of it.

Cocaine is a narcotic drug defined in section 13-3401. If a metabolite of cocaine that is capable of causing impairment is found in your body while you were operating a vehicle, you can be convicted under this code section. However, the Arizona Supreme Court has interpreted "metabolite" to mean that only a proscribed drug's metabolites that are capable of causing impairment count for the purpose of securing a conviction under this code section. It reasoned that adopting the State's interpretation that "metabolites" should include any drug byproduct would lead to absurd results, since metabolites can stay in the body longer than the drug itself may. Thus, simply having a non-impairing metabolite may not be enough to prove a violation under section 28-1381.

On the other hand, in one nonbinding appellate case, the presence of a particular metabolite in the defendant's system indicated that he had recently had cocaine in his body. The particular metabolite did not affect or impair the human body, but the appellate court noted that cocaine does cause agitation, loss of coordination, and a decline in motor functions. All of these can impair driving. The defendant in that case had failed the field sobriety tests created to detect impairment, leading an appellate court to uphold his conviction under section 28-1381.

The penalties for these charges if you are convicted are similar to being charged with an alcohol-related DUI. However, there may be more serious consequences for your driver's license if you are convicted of a DUI with cocaine, and you may also be charged with cocaine possession, depending on whether you had cocaine with you in the car.

If a prosecutor secures a first offense drugged driving conviction, this is classified as a class 1 misdemeanor. If you are convicted, you may face a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of six months in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500, as well as a potential five years on probation. The penalties are more severe for later offenses. For example, for a second DUI conviction based on cocaine, you would face a minimum penalty of 30 days in jail and a maximum of five years on probation.

Unlike with alcohol-related DUIs, if you are charged with a drug DUI based on cocaine, you face the possibility of your driver's license being suspended without being able to get a restricted driver's license during that period.

There may be defenses available to fight a cocaine-based DUI. For example, your attorney may be able to defend on constitutional or procedural grounds. A law enforcement officer must have had a reasonable suspicion that you were committing a crime or had committed a crime (such as drunk or drugged driving) in order to pull you over. The reasonable suspicion must be more than a hunch. When that reasonable suspicion is not present, it may be possible to get the evidence from the stop suppressed. You are also entitled to other constitutional protections, such as being read your Miranda warnings when you are taken into custody. Violations of these rights can give rise to a strong defense.

Consult a Drug DUI Lawyer to Fight a Charge in the Phoenix Area

If you are charged with a drug DUI based on cocaine, you may face harsh penalties. It is important to retain a tough, skillful trial attorney with a strong reputation for building a defense. James Novak represents defendants throughout the Phoenix area, including in Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and elsewhere in Maricopa County. Contact James Novak at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form for an appointment.

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