If a blood test proves you are not high or intoxicated, you can’t be convicted of a DUI, right?
Well, so you would think.
However, drivers in numerous states may face jail time, losing their licenses, and paying large fines for dui convictions even after blood tests prove they were not high.
How can this happen? Blood tests can detect whether you have the active ingredient of certain drugs in your system and also whether you have the metabolites of the drugs. Metabolites are inactive chemicals created as your body neutralizes the drug. The metabolites can linger in a person’s system for up to a month. In many states, you can be guilty of a dui if a blood test simply finds a drug metabolite in your body. Even if you took the drug weeks ago and your driving ability is not currently impaired, you will be guilty.
Drivers from Ohio, Arizona, Utah, Iowa, Indiana, Delaware and Rhode Island, as well as other states, can be convicted of dui for having a certain amount of drug metabolites in their blood.
For example, when testing for marijuana, blood tests can detect two important marijuana chemical compounds. One of them, THC, makes a person high and lasts for hours. The other inactive chemical, created as your body neutralizes THC, can linger in a person’s system for up to a month.
In Arizona, the state law simply says if you have either the active chemical compound of marijuana, THC, or the inactive chemical that is created as your body neutralizes THC, in your blood, you are guilty of DUI.
The Arizona Court of Appeals upheld Arizona’s law in Arizona v. Shilgevorkyan , stating; “We determined that the legislative ban extends to all substances, whether capable of causing impairment or not.” The Supreme Courts of Michigan and Illinois have also upheld DUI convictions of people not under the influence of anything.
Ohio law is only slightly different than Arizona’s regarding marijuana. While under the Arizona law, any amount of marijuana metabolite in your blood can result in a ovi, the Ohio dui law requires a certain level of marijuana metabolite in a person’s system. See O.R.S. 45119.19(A)(1)(j)(vii) & (viii)(II).
Even more troubling, in some states, such as Colorado, using marijuana is no longer a crime. So, a Colorado resident could smoke marijuana on Tuesday morning, fly a plane to Arizona, and be arrested for dui on Wednesday for having marijuana metabolite in his blood.
So, in many states, even if you are not impaired while driving, you could face serious criminal consequences for past drug use.