When you think of a DUI, you probably think about drinking and driving. But despite Arizona’s legalization of marijuana, you could be charged with a DUI for using the drug and getting behind the wheel. Just like alcohol, you need to use marijuana responsibly.
But with the legal use of marijuana being something newer, many people don’t know how it impacts their bodies. Understanding how long THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, remains in your body is something you should know about before getting behind the wheel. And if you ever don’t feel right – whether it’s due to drugs, alcohol, or even a prescription medication – you should avoid driving.
What is THC?
THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol. This psychoactive ingredient is naturally found in marijuana and is what produces the feeling of being high. When the substance enters your body, the body metabolizes it. This is the process by which your body breaks down the compounds of THC into metabolites.
Metabolites are what law enforcement tests at a traffic stop where they suspect a DUI. When testing, there are two kinds of THC that law enforcement might find. The first is Hydroxy THC, which can produce psychoactive results. The second is Carboxy THC, which does not indicate recent marijuana use or the presence of psychoactive substances.
What you need to know about THC levels and impairment
Much like alcohol, a person’s size and stature impact the time that THC remains in the body. However, the effect on the body from THC does not match that of alcohol. When you feel the effects of THC could be long after your body initially peaks with THC levels.
With this finding, DUIs for THC are much more complicated than alcohol because there is not a direct correlation between the amount of THC in the body and its impacts on a person’s impairment.
You could have a low level of THC in your blood and be more impaired than someone with higher levels of THC.
How long does THC remain in the body?
So now for the big question about how long THC is detectable in a drug test. The challenging reality is that it really depends. THC begins dissipating from the body shortly after it enters the body.
Generally, THC levels are not detectable after a few short hours of smoking the substance. However, if you ingest the substance orally, it could last far longer in the body than if you inhale it through smoking.
The bad news about THC is that it is detectable in urine for several days after use. And if you use marijuana regularly, such as to treat a medical ailment, the substance could be present in your urine for up to five weeks since your last use of the drug.
Therefore, you could be considered impaired far after the effects of being high wear off.
What to do if you’re facing Arizona DUI charges
Armed with this information about how THC remains in the body long after the effects of the drug wear off, you should not panic if you face DUI charges for THC in your body.
Instead, contact an Arizona DUI attorney right away. The sooner you get an attorney involved in your case, the less likely you are to face serious criminal charges for driving under the influence.
DUI charges have increased since the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in early 2021. Part of the issue with this increase is that law enforcement is still learning about how the drug impacts the body and the impairment behind the wheel.
If you’re facing DUI charges, get in contact with our office now and we’ll mount your defense.